400 Gladstone students to be trained in suicide intervention
THE effects of suicide brought Mark Brookes, Sandra Moran and John Whitten together on a mission to ensure it doesn't tear anyone else apart.
"Sadly, as all of us know, you get involved by being impacted," said Sandra, who lost her son Jaie to suicide only two days after his 22nd birthday in 2014.
Later that year, Sandra formed Jaie's Journey Inc to raise awareness of depression and other related mental health illnesses.
Also not content with sitting idle and watching other families suffer heartbreak, John formed Project We Care eight years ago. He had previously lost his brother to suicide.
Last month more than 150 people gathered for the inaugural Show and Shine and Ride For Life fundraiser, which took motorcyclists on a journey to Raglan and Calliope, raising plenty of money along the way.
Mark and Sandra came together last September to formulate the idea for the Ride For Life and it's hoped it will become an annual tradition.
"It was something I was very proud to be involved with and to make a difference," Mark said.
"I've been affected, as has everyone in this room."
$4000 was raised from a number of fund-raising initiatives including the Ride For Life, sausage sizzles, prize raffles and donations source from local businesses.
John said the money will train 400 high school students in suicide safe talks.
"That's 400 children that would not know anything about suicide intervention who will now be trained," he said.
"The safe talk teaches people how to spot friends or family who have thoughts of suicide, how to talk to them about it and how to refer them onto someone who can help."
Project We Care is currently offering talks for grade 11 students. They have previously held talks with grade 12 students but study commitments proved a stumbling block.
Despite the confronting nature of the subject, John said letting Gladstone high school students know about suicide awareness was very important.
"Gladstone has double the national average in suicides, which to me is just a disgrace and we've got to do something about it," he said.
"The biggest reason for death in the 15 to 25-year-old age group is suicide.
"Last year 3050 people Australia-wide killed themselves and really that's only the tip of the iceberg."