Taboo talk in Sacred night

LET'S TALK: A new play coming to Geelong explores the taboo subject of suicide to build resilience among teens.

“It’s time to talk about suicide,” according to the writer and social workers behind a new play broaching the taboo subject.

Suicide: It’s Time We Talked comes to Newtown’s Sacred Heart College on 29 March with an expert panel in a 30-minute Q&A session afterward.

The free, 35-minute play offered “strategies to build resilience”, said panellist Marie McLeod.

“As we raise awareness, it becomes less of a taboo topic and people feel more comfortable talking about it,” Ms McLeod said.

The social worker and positive psychology advocate argued that suicide had been taboo for too long.

Suicide was the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 44 in 2016, according to ABS data. Twice as many girls aged 15 to 19 suicided in 2015 than in 2005, with rates for children under 14 also rising over the same time.

Some people feared that talking about suicide could have a copycat effect but “appropriate discussion” could be preventative, McLeod said.

“We can’t stop adversities in life. We need to think about how we equip young people with skills and strategies, and one of those strategies is talking.”

The play follows character Jessica, whose parents find suicidal comments on her computer. She then discusses her concerns with them, including bullying and friend Lindy’s suicide.

Panellist and Headspace Elsternwick manager Kirsten Cleland said the play encouraged youths contemplating suicide to stop, think and talk to someone.

“It’s really helpful because I think that it can enable conversation and make sure that the message gets out clearly,” Ms Cleland said.

Play author and theatre veteran Alan Hopgood agreed.

“There’s no reason why we can’t discuss it more openly,” he said.

Attendees will receive additional resources such as a copy of not-for-profit group Parent Guides’ Mental Health 101.

Parent Guides founder Eileen Berry encouraged parents and teens to attend.

“We want to deliver an end-to-end evening geared toward safety,” Ms Berry said.

“Our mission is to encourage people to seek help, maintain connections and raise awareness while providing practical tools.”

Registrations for the evening are available at eventbrite.com/e/suicide-its-time-we-talked-tickets-55317826107.

Anyone needing help with mental issues can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

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