Rotary’s Save Our Kids project awarded for saving lives

Lindy Macgregor, senior team leader, Dr June Anderson, training manager, Stewart Elridge, North Gosford Rotarian

North Gosford Rotarians were honoured with a certificate of merit for their commitment to making Coast schools ‘suicide safer’, at the Lifeline Central Coast Office in Wyoming, on March 11.

The award comes from internationally renowned leaders in suicide prevention LivingWorks, and was presented to North Gosford Rotarian, Mr Stewart Elridge, by LivingWorks’ International Training Consultant, Ms Lindy Macgregor, for the Rotary’s Save Our Kids (SOKS) project. Ms Macgregor will also be training Central Coast suicide awareness agents, local teachers and counsellors and community members as part of the SOKS project and she said the SOKS project was an example of a community’s capability to reach out to one another and help prevent suicide.

“More caregivers mean young people at risk of suicide are more likely to have their invitations for help recognised, and more likely to get the help they need to stay safe,” she said. The Rotary Club’s SOKS committee comprises Mr Eldridge, Mr Lester Pearson, Mr Warren Mills, Mr Peter Hamilton, Mr Lance Harrigan and Lifeline Hunter Central Coast board member, Mr Michael Sharpe. The club initiated the project in 2012 and has raised more than $100,000 for its delivery. The NSW Government contributed $60,000 to the project in 2015.

More than 730 people have been trained across 24 schools and 10 community organisations and the SOKS team estimates it has saved over 100 lives to date. Their goal is to train a further 1,000 people in 2016/17. A survey of a sample of those trained, undertaken in October 2015, revealed 91 percent of participants found the training ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ helpful and 86 per cent said they now had a high level of confi dence in talking with young people about their thoughts of suicide. According to SOKS data, the Central Coast has around 23,000 students and 2,400 school staff in 36 secondary schools.

Extrapolating the results from the 2015 Second Australian child and adolescent survey of mental health and wellbeing Report for 11-17 year olds to students enrolled at NSW Central Coast secondary schools show that: 2,524 (10.9 per cent) have selfharmed, 1,737 (7.5 per cent) have seriously considered a suicide attempt, 1,204 (5.2 per cent) have made a plan and 556 (2.4 per cent) have attempted suicide. “We are helping people who are in daily contact with young people to be better able to identify atrisk students, make an appropriate intervention and provide suitable referrals,” Ms Macgregor said.

Media release, Mar 14, 2016 Craig Eardley, North Gosford Rotary