It’s okay to speak up

R U OK?: Blacktown Youth Services Association program manager Natalie Chiappazzo and youth development worker Tim Alcantara helped produce a suicide awareness video for R U OK Day last week. Picture: Geoff Jones

R U OK?: Blacktown Youth Services Association program manager Natalie Chiappazzo and youth development worker Tim Alcantara helped produce a suicide awareness video for R U OK Day last week. Picture: Geoff Jones

A young person commits suicide almost every day in Australia.

Intentional self harm accounts for one-third of all deaths of men aged 15 to 19. It is the biggest killer of Australians under 44.

These alarming statistics, and the increasing rate of suicide among young Australians, has prompted Blacktown Youth Services Association (BYSA) to raise awareness of the silent epidemic.

Two weeks ago, the organisation launched a video called Moments on R U OK Day.

BYSA program manager Natalie Chiappazzo said, like the annual day of recognition, the point of the video is to make it normal for people to have serious conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

“It is so important to listen to young people when they are trying to reach out,” Ms Chiappazzo said.

“Often they feel that they are unheard and feel that others do not really understand what they are going through. Unfortunately there  is still a lot of stigma around mental health.

“Sometimes we need to have difficult conversations to raise awareness about such an important issue.”

The hard-hitting two minute clip has so far been seen by 6000 people online.

Ms Chiappazzo said she spoke to young people about their concerns before producing the video.

Her consultations revealed that youth not only want more support from family and friends, but also more access to local healthcare services.

“Preferably, they would like to receive help in a number of ways from professional counselling to social support groups,” Ms Chiappazzo said.

Mental health was identified as one of the key concerns for youth at a policy consultation forum in Parramatta last week.

More than 100 young people gathered at the #itsuptoYOUth forum to share their thoughts and experiences with health experts.

Their feedback will inform the state’s next youth health policy, which is expected to be completed early next year.

Despite growing awareness and demand for mental health support, major service providers like Headspace have not received a federal funding increase since 2012.

  • If you need help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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