Youth mentor program to roll out in Valley
YOUTH suicide affects every person, and mother of four Carolyn Tanner says it is about time we stand up and do something about it.
With three of her own children suffering from mental illnesses, Ms Tanner knows the struggles parents face.
"The hardest thing as a mother is that you take a deep breath and worry that you won't be able to breathe out again," she said.
"You just feel so hopeless and so helpless when dealing with your children's suffering."
Ms Tanner's family were close to a local teenager who took his own life in June. She said for her three children, coping with the loss of a friend was difficult for them to get through.
"I explained to my kids the processes of grief and loss, and how it is different for everybody but also gave them the space to have that grief," she said.
"Dealing with three kids suffering from three different mental health conditions dealing with grief and loss, it is really difficult.
"Family support is a major thing to help these kids through their grief."
Using her background in mental health and her studies of the subject Ms Tanner is taking matters into her own hands by creating a community-based program to support kids who are suffering.
The program will aim to educate 40 strong-willed youths in the Clarence Valley about mental illness, signs of suffering and the help established to deal with mental health issues. These youth mental health mentors will act as a direct support network for those in need, to guide them to the right form of help.
"From my own experience with my children and others around me I have identified that most will talk with their friends or peers before they will talk to an adult," Ms Tanner said.
"Be it about sex, about drugs or even about voices in their head. They will talk to their mates long before they turn to an adult.
"Bringing in youth mentors will assist the crossover between the service delivery and the kids at risk."
Ms Tanner is in discussions with several mental health organisations to act as a support umbrella group for her youth mentors program to roll out in Valley.
Support organisations are available for those who need help.
Lifeline 13 11 14 or headspace 1800 650 890