42% of young people, who died by suicide, did so after losing a loved one to suicide.
Coogee mental health advocate and speaker, Wendy McWilliam, said losing her mother by suicide is will forever be the hardest, most emotionally and physically exhausting time of her life. And that, yes, this enormous loss has changed her forever.
Suicide is complex and every story is unique, but it is said that this type of death is mostly preventable. Since her bereavement in 2011, and subsequent grief journey to recovery, Wendy has found it helpful to engage support from the local community in order to assist others bereaved by suicide.
Today, as President of WINGS of Hope, she is also part of a global revolution through the R U OK? Day organisation, and now will be sharing her lived experience and insights into what was helpful in coping with her loss. World Suicide Prevention Day is 10 September and RUOK Day is 14 September. Presenting at three significant forums, Wendy will seek to provide an understanding of her lived experience to enable others to enhance their (nursing) professional skills, or life skills and to reduce risk and isolation in our community.
Event: Advanced Mental Health Practice
Host: Notre Dame University and audience is 3rd year Nursing Students Date: Thursday 14 September 2017, Private event: 10am – 11.30am Location: Level 3, 160 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Event: Suicide Prevention and Awareness Community Discussion | Keeping Ok
Host: One Door Mental Health Date: Thursday 14 September 2017
Free event: 6pm – 8pm (doors open 5pm)
Bookings are encouraged – Register your interest on the website: http://www.onedoor.org.au/events/keeping-ok-suicide-forum or phone 02 9708 2670 Location: Balmain Town Hall, 370 Darling Street, Balmain
Commonwealth Bank of Australia private event, Thursday 7/9/17, at Haymarket Sydney.
9th June 2015
Riverina families bereaved by suicide to receive Red Chocolate Elephants support
It’s difficult to measure the social impact of the worst drought in modern times, but with the rate of suicide being 50% higher in regional communities than in others, it is essential that regional communities are provided with resources to strengthen families.
As a child growing up in Beelbangera, just outside of Griffith, Wendy saw families in her community experience the highs and lows of life on the land and knew of others touched by suicide. Even tight-knit communities can find it hard to talk about health and wellbeing, especially with this type of death.
In 2004, the lives of Wendy and her family were devastated overnight by the loss of her mum, Faye McWilliam, who took her own life.
“I was 26 years old at the time and it was sudden and unexpected when mum died. Over the years afterwards, we tried to navigate through our grief, and I gained an understanding of the importance of being able to access help.”
Suicide bereavement is an intense form of grief which can be complicated and contagion presents the risk of further suicide amongst the bereaved. Today Wendy heads up WINGS of Hope Inc, a registered harm prevention charity providing supports and resources to people bereaved by suicide.
As Acting President of WINGS of Hope, Wendy is pleased to announce the support of the St George Foundation.
“The St George Foundation’s 2015 grant provides us with funds to enable our education and support resources to be delivered to communities who need it most, specifically in the Riverina.”
The book and DVD resource is titled “Red Chocolate Elephants” and features actual voices and art of suicide bereaved children, enabling children to really ‘connect’ with the voices of someone else, in their shoes, with a similar loss experience – to reduce isolation and risk in our community. This essential postvention* resource has been placed in mental health services and support organisations, schools, accident and emergency units, workplaces and where it is needed most nationally.
“There is no other resource like this out there and we will make this available at no cost to local schools, and community channels because children and suicide is an area that no-one seems to want to deal” said Wendy Mcwilliam.
The QLD Senate Inquiry into suicide reported: “… 42 % of young people who completed suicide did so after the suicide, or attempted suicide of a friend, family or community member.”
Each time a suicide occurs it is conservatively estimated that 8 people are touched by that lo ss. The ABS reports that 75% of suicides are men and so with 80,000 people estimated to be bereaved by suicide each year that adds up to a lot of wives, children, family, friends and co-workers left behind.
The resource WINGS of Hope offers at no charge due to the 2015 St George Foundation grant provides a framework for children to deal with this grief and begin the healing process.
“Talking to children about suicide is in the “too hard basket” usually and yet it is vital that parents, carers and extended family and friends can access information and strategies to help talk about the death and work out ways to cope.”
Wendy says her goal and commitment to the St George Foundation grant is to distribute 60 copies of the Red Chocolate Elephants DVD/book resource to relevant community outlets in the Riverina district. Tragically, rural communities are still at increasing risk of suicide and Wendy believes this resource will provide additional support to students and families in need.
Individuals or organisations can purchase copies to donate to their school, social workers, youth projects, hospitals or their workplace HR department resource library.
Leigh White | WINGS of Hope Communications Coordinator | 0431 932 122 | firstname.lastname@example.org
WINGS of Hope Inc. is a registered harm prevention charity working to reduce harm in the area of suicide prevention and mental health. WINGS of Hope’s mandate is to prevent harm and inspire new growth after suicide loss amongst the bereaved community.
To remain sustainable and keep the good work going WINGS of Hope supports rely on community support. Donations over $2 are tax deductible and can be made via our donation page.
Reference: 1 ‘The Hidden Toll” senate committee inquiry into suicide in Australian 2010, P 116.
* Postvention is the resources and supports delivered following a suicide death.