BEING AWARE: Judy Pender, here with husband John, is pleased that Safetalk suicide alertness training will be delivered in Biloela, Moura and Theodore.
BEING AWARE: Judy Pender, here with husband John, is pleased that Safetalk suicide alertness training will be delivered in Biloela, Moura and Theodore.

‘I didn’t see the signs’: Heartache in man's suicide death

JUDY Pender regrets not seeing the signs before her brother Jeffrey Wilkie took his life on December 27, 2017.

"It was just two days after Christmas with the whole family and he really made a point of saying goodbye at the end of the day," Mrs Pender said.

"He was a father of five kids and had a beautiful wife."

Now just two years down the track, Mrs Pender said she had become equipped to recognise the signs that somebody was struggling and may want to take their life.

As treasurer of the Biloela Rotary Club Mrs Pender has advocated for suicide alertness training in the community and now it's here, in the form of the free three hour Safetalk training course.

"We've had numerous people take their lives in our community, especially a lot of young people," Mrs Pender said.

"I've done a whole bunch of similar courses but I would highly recommend this one.

"It provides a number of video scenarios that help participants pick up that somebody isn't acting like themselves and may need some help."

The Safetalk program alerts community members to signs that a person may be considering suicide and it acknowledges that, while most people at risk of suicide signal their distress and invite help, these intervention opportunities are often overlooked.

Participants learn to recognise when someone may have thoughts of suicide and to respond in ways that link them with further suicide intervention help.

The program is presented by a registered Safetalk trainer who uses internationally standardised learning materials - tailoring examples and applications to local needs as appropriate.

"How many times does a child have to take their life and a parent doesn't know," Mrs Pender said.

"I didn't see any signs as well but after the training I've realised the signs were there and I've worked with people and helped them.

"We have to break the stigma and people have to start getting realistic."

According to research from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), high levels of stress and low levels of services contributed to a high rural suicide rate.

Suicide rates are 50 per cent higher in rural communities than in major cities, according to the CRRMH with Queensland, farmers more than twice as likely than the general population to take their own lives.

Deidre Fagan-Pagliano from Central Queensland Rural Health said this Safetalk training was an opportunity for anyone feeling embarrassed and ashamed to have an open, positive conversation.

"It's an opportunity for anybody in the community and, especially those that have a lot of day-to-day interactions throughout the community," Mrs Fagan-Pagliano said.

"We encourage the community to recognise the signs and triggers and be aware of them so they are open to a positive conversation.

"We've delivered a similar program and the feedback we get is that there is a markable increase in people becoming more comfortable to talk about the issue."

Mrs Pender said the course was available for anyone 15 years or older and, as a result, she would love to see a large contingent of high school students taking part.

For more information and to book a spot at Safetalk training in Biloela, Moura or Theodore, contact Mrs Pender on 0429 922 859 by March 11.

13 11 14 is the number for Lifeline crisis support and suicide prevention.


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