A CARD simply asking for help is the latest strategy to combat youth suicide.
The Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network (SSPAN) in conjunction with South Nowra Rotary Club have developed the “blue card” – a free card designed for young people seeking help.
The issue of youth suicide has been thrust into the spotlight in the Shoalhaven in the past couple of months with a number of deaths.
SSPAN vice-chairman Tim Hudman said young people often found it hard to find the right words to ask for help.
“Being too difficult to find the words to actually ask for help can stop young people seeking assistance,” he said.
The blue card is a business card young people can carry and hand to another person at a time they feel they need help, without having to use words.
“All the young people need to do is give the card to somebody when they feel they need help,” he said.
“There is a simple explanation on the card stating the young person needs or wants help.
“On the back of the card there are simple instructions for the person who has been presented with it, explaining what they should do and who they should contact.”
He said 90 per cent of suicide could be attributed to untreated mental illness. Young people were less likely to seek help for a mental illness than adults.
“They often don’t recognise, like adults do, that they are suffering a mental illness. Often, they have never experienced it before and there is still a real stigma about requiring help and they are often unsure where to turn.
“They can feel isolated; that it is only happening to them and there is no way out. Sometimes it is the first time they have faced this sort of challenge and don’t have the resources or coping mechanisms like an adult would.”
He said blue cards were the first step to getting the care they need.
“The card is not the be-all and end-all but it is an initial step to try to catch young people in that position and get them the services and help them need,” he said.
“Young people will also turn to friends for help and this is also a way for friends to get help for those they obviously care deeply about.”
He said the cards were also an opportunity to start discussions with young people about the difficulties in seeking help and what stresses them out.
“We are also looking at developing an app that can further assist young people, carers and the community get the help they need,” he said.
The project was launched on May 18 at the Rotary Rypen Camp, a special camp for youth development of people aged between 14 and 18.
Blue cards are available in local hospital emergency departments and mental health facilities in the Shoalhaven.
Mr Hudman said there were moves to have the cards distributed through local schools.