At the age of 11, Brian Boulton lost his father to suicide – but it took two decades for him to properly come to terms with his loss.
Now he’s working to prevent others from losing their loved ones, by teaching them to recognise the warning signs of suicide and act upon them.
The Towradgi resident, a former Lifeline crisis counsellor, recently hosted the region’s first live presentation of the internationally recognised suicide prevention course, QPR, last week.
QPR – or Question, Persuade, Refer – is available as an online course but Mr Boulton said that didn’t suit everyone. He’s working with Citylife Community Initiatives at Fairy Meadow to deliver the training live twice a month.
“Many people want the personal interaction that comes with live presentations, especially with sensitive issues like suicide,” he said. “For instance one lady at the presentation had recently spent several hours in hospital with a loved one who was suicidal, and said she’d had no idea what to say to her.
“Through the session she received affirmation that she had said the right things, and it was such a relief to her. She was then able to learn how else she could help her.”
Mr Boulton is a member of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative and is a trainer with Australian Red Cross. He’s been certified by the QPR Institute to deliver the training.
“In the live presentation the myths and facts around suicide are explored openly, and sensitively, and we give people the skills to help those with suicidal thoughts,” he said. “We know this evidence-based course saves lives and reduces suidical behaviours.
“It’s a personal mission for me – my father suicided when I was 11 but it wasn’t until I was about 30 and went to work for Lifeline and was trained as a crisis counsellor that I started to address my own grief.
“Through this training I hope to make others more comfortable talking about suicide, more confident in recognising the warning signs in others and helping them access support.”
The one-hour, or three-hour extended sessions, will run during the first week of each month – on the Thursday and the Saturday. Bookings can be made at QPRlive.eventbrite.com.au or on 0406 712 056.
The initiative complements the Mercury’s campaign to get more people trained in QPR, being run over several weeks in conjunction with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative.
As part of that NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has funded 1000 free online courses, of which around 200 remain. To secure one visit www.suicidepreventioncollaborative.org.au/QPR
If you’d like to talk to anyone about the issues raised in this article call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.