Ambassador roles for Lewis, Wall as south-west athletes sign up to ASIST

FOR Warrnambool-born football star Jordan Lewis, becoming involved in a suicide-prevention program for regional athletes is all about creating awareness.

The 28-year-old Hawthorn forward has teamed up with another south-west sporting hero, netballer Sarah Wall, to become ambassadors for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

The new initiative will teach players, captains, coaches and parents at regional clubs to identify suicide warning signs and connect those at risk with the help they need.

“The hardest thing is to admit you’re having trouble,” Lewis said.

“If you can help someone or encourage them to speak up, it might be step one in trying to rebuild their lives.

“Any program that raises awareness like this is a good thing.”

According to federal government figures, suicide rates in rural and remote areas are significantly higher than the national average and have risen over the past three decades, especially among men.

ASIST aims to provide access to support services for people in those remote and rural areas.

Free two-day workshops, open to all sporting clubs, are being funded by Lifeline and Rotary and will be delivered by qualified local trainers.

Wall, who is originally from Camperdown and plays for the NSW Swifts, has enrolled to take part in the first sessions in Warrnambool on March 19-20.

She said she was participating in order to learn more about the issue, which was now the leading cause of death of people aged under 44, with four out of five of those taking their own lives being men.

“With the work I’m doing with the girls in my netball programs, I want to know I’m across the issues, can identify problems and be prepared to help anyone in need,” Wall said.

The program is a collaborative effort between Lifeline South West Vic, Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (GGT UDRH), Rotary, Brophy Family and Youth Services, Headspace and Westvic Staffing Solutions. People interested in participating in training can contact Lifeline’s Megan Walsh on 5559 0555 or visit the ASIST Facebook page.

Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone crisis support service is available to anyone needing emotional support on 131 114.

Source: The Warrrnambool Standard, March 17 2015 – Bec Zajac



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