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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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12 June, 2021

Key interests meet in name of suicide prevention

Wesley Mission met this month to discuss suicide prevention

By Michael R Williams

Nola Hedger and Olwen Schulbert, both from Hervey Bar Suicide Prevention Network, middle Dave Kerrigane Central West Suicide Prevention Network Chair. PHOTOS: Supplied.

THIS MONTH marked the inaugural meet-up for the Wesley LifeForce Foundation (WLF) interests specifically for regional Queensland, in the name of suicide prevention.   

The WLF or Wesley Mission is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to alleviate issues such as homelessness, addiction, mental health, financial troubles, and domestic challenges.   

As the end of 2019 and 2020 were explicitly tough in regional Queensland, the timeliness of this meet-up has never been more apparent.   

Groups from the Central West, North Queensland, Whitsundays, and other parts from Queensland met up in Longreach on both Saturday and Sunday.   

Up until this point, most rallies have been held nationally, but during COVID-19, meetings were restricted to online, and this prompted the idea of having a separate state meeting.   

The purpose was not just due to interstate travel restrictions, but also the recognition of the state’s unique issues faced such as the current unerring drought.   

The meeting’s discussion was not all doom and gloom, however, with Chair of Central West Queensland Suicide Prevention Network, Dave Kerrigan saying the network plans to organise a horse ride from Gympie to Longreach in the name of raising awareness.   

“It’ll be hard work though, six weeks of work and planning, we will need to also find people with the specific expertise of how to take a horse for such a long trail,” he said.   

“We’d like to get all sections of the community involved, so far we’ve already seen a lot of support.”  

The Wesley Mission has been seeing success with their networking program, with their own research saying where there is a network the area sees a decline in suicides of 17 per cent.   

“It’s very important that we are doing this work,” Mr Kerrigan said.   

“It’s great to see what you are doing is making a difference.  

“When you go home you hope you did a good job, it’s positive to hear we are.”  

Several other interests have been getting involved with the networks such as councils, schools, and other not-for-profits like Roses in the Ocean.   

And, the Wesley Foundation will be getting involved with other community events such as providing music for the RoofTop Express next week in Blackall.   

It’s not just about raising awareness either, the networks also provide local councils support, an online counselling service, and even an app.   

“We do see a brighter future [for suicide prevention], it’s great to see the community fighting with us to create that future,” Mr Kerrigan said.   

“We are always accommodating room for other groups to come and land a hand, and we could always use corporate members as that could really make a difference as we’ve seen with other groups.”  

Mr Kerrigan said suicide is an ongoing issue and not one that can be truly eradicated.   

“But, we can eliminate the stigma around it, that’s an area others and I are working hard on,” he said.   

“It’s opportunities like this, in the media, for us to do that, and have our voices heard.”  

“It is a challenge, but a good challenge.” 

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline 13 11 14. 

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