Every life matters.
That’s the clear message a group of passionate regional residents promote as suicide continues to remain a taboo in society.
The Gawler Suicide Prevention Community group (GSPCG), established in 2013, is an outreach avenue for people, including family and friends, who find themselves involved in mental health situations.
For volunteers Stuie Steele and Robyn Stecker, both say the vital service works to provide the right avenues of support for each individual situation.
Mr Steele and Ms Stecker make up a core support base of eight to 12 volunteers who work hard to raise awareness about suicide prevention in the community.
Mr Steele, said, “We don't offer counselling to anybody, but we do listen to people’s stories and try to make sure they can find the appropriate methods in assisting them or their friends and family”.
Members now call on the community to further support their understanding, education and awareness of people’s needs by way of completing a simple survey.
The survey, now open, has complete anonymity and asks general questions about the prevention group and statements about suicide, which provide varying levels of response from a personal perspective.
So far, close to 200 people have supported the survey leaving volunteers pleased with the high response.
Data collected from the survey will be used by the group and will further assist prevention groups across the state to address people’s and community needs, plus fill in gaps where members can expand or work on.
For Ms Stecker, a retired social worker and secretary of the group, she said the members are keen to engage and support people who live with depression and anxiety.
She explained how the members come from a mix of backgrounds, local residents, health/welfare professionals and those personally affected by suicide.
The members stress they come with no bias - politically or religiously, with no favouritism to corporations and the funding the group receives is realised through their own efforts.
However, expert support is received by way of literature and education provided by health services such as SA Health, BeyondBlue, Headspace and StandBy Response to name a few.
She, with Mr Steele, GSPCG media spokesperson, said understanding behaviour and simple ways of conversing with people who are at risk is at the core of why they have joined the group.
“It’s an ideology we all believe in, which is increasing the strength of the communities, and connectivity means we are not leaving anyone behind,” Mr Steele added.
The group is also keen to further break down barriers in the way society perceives and uses the word suicide.
Ms Stecker added, “We do prefer to say ‘took own life’, ‘died by suicide’ or ‘suicided’ rather than say commit which feels like an offence”.
Yet, rather than dwell on these terms, the group would much prefer to know people they have come into contact with are provided the right support and continue to do be supported.
Members can be reached via the GSPCG facebook page with an automatic message bounced back with links to support networks before a personal response is made.
In addition, the community can meet with members at events such as the Gawler Village Fair hosted by Gawler Rotary Club and they plan to participate in more events and call on the community to contact them via social media.
To take part in the survey, visit surveymonkey.com/r/36QN2RW.