Now the pair volunteer as telephone crisis supporters each week and do education and training about suicide awareness in the community.
‘I don’t know how, but Lifeline suddenly appeared on the horizon, and it provided a lifeline in terms of my own mental health and has been a really important part of dealing with my own trauma and grief,’ Mr Kelly said.
Mr Kelly and Ms Biggin volunteer at the organisation’s East Perth centre, answering calls from people in crisis.
Mr Kelly said he had been trained, like other volunteer supporters, to help people through a range of issues including depression, relationship breakdown and mental illness.
‘You never know what is going to be on the end of the line,’ he said.
‘If I can help relieve that person’s immediate distress so that their focus isn’t on the distress and through the call they are listened to and had their feelings validated and I am able to help them see the next step and connect them back to other resources, then that is a good call.’
Mr Kelly said there was an assumption that suicide calls were the hardest to handle.
‘But they are not. With suicide calls we have controls in place that we follow. For me the hardest calls are from young girls.’
Fellow volunteer Andrew Walton said the hardest calls for him were from people who had lost loved ones.
‘Loss and grief for me is the most poignant and there is a lot of loss in the world,’ he said.
– For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or go to www.lifeline.org.au.