Opinion: Support in numbers
I HAD my first encounter with suicide in Year 6.
A friend's father who had lost his wife to a long battle with cancer had reached the end of his tether and took his own life.
Until that time my parents had done a pretty good job to wrap me in cotton wool and keep me from being exposed to mental illness and suicide.
The day we were pulled into class to be told by our teacher was the day I learnt of the fragility of life.
Right now the Clarence Valley is also understanding the fragility of life and the toll that mental illness takes on all of us.
With our mental health support services stretched to breaking point it is a heartbreaking thing to witness.
In our page 4 story, South Grafton mother Kerry Laurie has reached the end of her own tether with mental health services and begun petitioning for headspace to outreach to the Clarence Valley.
It is quite sobering to see one woman take up arms to crusade for the community. But she is not and should not be alone in her quest.
In the past month I have spoken with too many people who have been hurt and affected by the rising suicide rate.
Every person has also realised a need to galvanise the community to fight for the health of our most vulnerable.
From Grafton mother Carolyn Tanner, who is building towards her own youth mentors program, to Lifeline North Coast CEO Alistair Donald who is fighting for more funding and education to help the Valley.
These people are pulling together, as the community will also. This is my very own call to arms. Clarence Valley, it is time to protect our young.