Rugby great Nick Farr-Jones has thrown his support behind The University of Western Australia’s suicide research initiative Young Lives Matter Foundation at UWA.
Australia’s most capped scrum-half and captain is in Perth for tomorrow night’s Bledisloe Cup match and was guest speaker at today’s UWA Rugby Club lunch.
Mr Farr-Jones covered a range of topics including youth suicide and the preventative efforts of organisations such as Stand Tall (founded by Mr Farr-Jones’ wife Angela and chaired by Mr Farr-Jones) and the Young Lives Matter Foundation.
The former Wallaby met Young Lives Matter Chairman Ronald Woss AM, and UWA researchers Professor Sean Hood and Professor Andrew Page, to discuss their shared concern about the prevalence of suicide in Australia, particularly among youth.
Through ground-breaking research at UWA, the Foundation is on track to create a world-first template to deliver targeted treatment and prevention based on an individual’s risk profile across a range of developmental factors.
The ongoing challenge of youth at risk of self-harm and suicide is one which has been addressed through the efforts of Stand Tall, which works to grow positive behaviours with young people in schools, such as Standing Tall for Friendships, Resilience, Positive Choices and What is Right.
The group was founded by a group of mothers in response to tragic levels of bullying, self-harm, depression and drug use among high school students.
Both organisations demonstrate how to achieve effective strategies and understanding of youth through multi-disciplined research combined with on-the-ground resources and advocacy of groups such as Stand Tall.
Suicide prevalence in Australia is an ongoing concern across a range of age groups and profiles. It has been particularly highlighted after the death of high-profile sports people such as former Wallaby Dan Vickerman.
Young Lives Matter aims to create a treatment approach that will be adaptable across a range of risk profiles and work to diminish overall suicide rates in Australia.
Mr Farr-Jones said Stand Tall had seven years of empowering high school students to have a positive attitude towards mental health.
“We have created inspiration and hope throughout New South Wales and are looking to extend our work nationally,” he said.
“Our work is only possible through partnerships and we are delighted to be exploring a collaboration with UWA Young Lives Matter.”
Mr Woss said it was the beginning of a new chapter for research into youth suicide.
“Collaboration between organisations such as Young Lives Matter, Stand Tall, Youth Focus and state and federal bodies are pivotal to the creation of treatment breakthroughs,” he said.
“Young Lives Matter – UWA will leave a legacy of solutions for the next generation, thereby diminishing the current national youth suicide epidemic.”
Mr Woss specifically thanked Celia Hammond, UWA graduate and Federal Member for Curtin, for her attendance and support.
UWA Vice-Chancellor and mental health professional, Professor Dawn Freshwater, said the Foundation’s multidisciplinary approach would create better outcomes for people in crisis.
“The Foundation is aiming to save lives by developing a ‘risk index’ tool to assess, predict and communicate the risk of suicide ideation, allowing support services to be allocated where and when they are needed most,” Professor Freshwater said.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.