THE biggest cause of death among Australia’s young people is suicide.
Despite that, the subject receives little discussion, possibly because people are afraid of saying the wrong thing or feel powerless to make any sort of positive contribution.
Prompted by community concern about recent deaths, the Leader undertook an investigation, gathering information, insights and advice from mental health experts, service providers and grieving families.
COMMUNITY concern about youth suicide was heightened by the unrelated deaths of two women from the Menai area on the same day last month.
The deaths of Richelle Turpin, 26, of Barden Ridge and Nadia Di Michele, 23, of Illawong were unrelated.
Funeral services were held a few days apart in Holy Family Catholic Church, Menai.
Ms Turpin's sisters Hayley, 24, Brooke, 22, and Samantha, 16, have joined with her friends in an initiative designed to raise awareness about mental illness.
They are planning a community beach walk at Wanda during Mental Health Week in October.
A Facebook page promoting the event, named Step Ahead — One Step Ahead of Mental Illness — quickly gained more than 1000 "likes".
Brooke Turpin said Sutherland Shire Council had given verbal approval for the walk, which would be followed by a barbecue and fun activities in Don Lucas Reserve.
Ms Turpin said the event would be run in association with a suicide prevention organisation, such as headspace, which has opened in Miranda.
"We want to get people talking about mental health, and not shy away from it," she said.
‘‘Hopefully, it will become an annual event, like Relay for Life.
‘‘We think the fact it is being organised by young people is very important because we are the peers of those who might need help.’’
Ms Turpin said the goals were to:
Raise awareness about mental illness in the local area.
Raise awareness about the services and help available in the local area for mental illness.
Remember those who have lost their battle with the affliction.
Raise money to put back into the community and services to help those who need support.
The heartbroken parents of Nadia Di Michele believe there should be more discussion about the condition, and extra specialist services for young people.
Rosetta and Tom Di Michele also urged young people who were experiencing depression to open up about it.
They said their daughter was “the happiest child on Earth’’ and completed high school and university “without stressing”, but things went wrong with her job, and ‘‘she just spiralled down”.
“There is not enough talk about mental illness,” Mrs Di Michele said.
”Every time I tell someone about Nadia it turns out they have had a similar experience with a relative or friend, but it’s something people tend to keep to themselves.”
Ms Di Michele said young people and parents should be aware depression could start at any time, and “does not discriminate”.
“Young people should talk to someone if they have a problem they cannot solve, and not try to keep on attempting to deal with it alone,” she said.
There to help:
Kids Helpline1800 551 800.
Lifeline13 11 14
Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
GPs and school counsellors.