'Suicide prevention training should be like CPR'
IF YOU had a hankering for a coffee or something sweet in the North Burnett yesterday, you would have been given a gentle reminder to ask an important question: R U OK?
Yesterday was R U OK? Day, and in the week leading up to it, which also included World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, North Burnett suicide prevention co-ordinator Russell Mills was busy putting some serious mileage on his odometer.
Mr Mills visited all six major towns in the North Burnett to spread awareness.
He handed out more than 900 flyers and candles for World Suicide Prevention Day, and while he was at it, he had crates full of R U OK?-branded mini-flags and coffee cups, which he distributed to major retailers in each town.
Mundubbera Bakery and Cafe was one such business.
Bakery owner and auxiliary firefighter Beau Milne said the day had a personal connection to him - he has lost several friends on the Sunshine Coast to suicide.
"It's the ones you don't expect that you've got to look out for," Mr Milne said.
"If you see a mate that's down, ask if they're okay, sit down and have a chat."
He said the Mundubbera firefighters were "especially" attuned to each others' emotions.
"We have great support in the fireys," Mr Milne said.
The business owner said he believed it was a coincidence R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day fell so close together - "there's only so many slots" - but believed it was a great opportunity to drive home his "life affirmation" message.
However, he doesn't want us to wait for an occasion like R U OK? Day to check in with people.
"As a colleague said to me, it's a shame we have to wait for a national day to promote the idea of asking people if they're okay - it should be every day," Mr Mills said.
Mr Mills, whose contract with the Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network runs until June 2020, said his ultimate goal was to help the North Burnett become "self-sufficient" in terms of reducing the risk of suicide, by encouraging residents to take training in suicide prevention, and upskill others more thoroughly to be able to deliver that training once he left.
He said suicide prevention training should be viewed more like CPR training - you take a course every 12 months so you are "deemed proficient".
"I'd like to see that occur in the future," Mr Mills said.
About 50 people attended the Mundubbera Suicide Prevention Network's free barbecue on Monday night, where they lit candles to represent the "ripple effect" caused within families and communities when someone decides to end their life.
The network meets on the third Monday of each month in the Mundubbera Blue Care centre at 6pm and is looking for new members.
Mr Mills said he was heartened by the region's response to the awareness events.
"The community need to hear how wonderful they are, they take stuff on board and will stand up for a cause," he said.
Mr Mills said to contact him at the North Burnett Community Service centre on 4165 4690 if you would like to know more about suicide prevention training or the Suicide Prevention Network.