safeTALK program in Murrumbateman on Sunday, October 13

Learn how to ask someone if they're thinking about suicide and what to do if the answer is yes at the safeTALK workshop in Murrumbateman on Sunday, October 13. Photo: FILE, generic
Learn how to ask someone if they're thinking about suicide and what to do if the answer is yes at the safeTALK workshop in Murrumbateman on Sunday, October 13. Photo: FILE, generic

Murrumbateman resident Keith Todd knows the reality of suicide. Sixteen officers died by suicide while he worked in the police force in London before moving to Australia.

On the other hand, Mr Todd knows suicide can be prevented. One day, the dangers and pressures of being a police officer became too much for Mr Todd and he joined the large number of people who think about suicide each year.

More than 2.1 million Australians will think about suicide at some point in their life, according to Department of Health.

Thankfully, another police officer encouraged Mr Todd to talk.

"Everything was imploding, everything was going wrong. Then someone, another cop, stepped forward and gave me permission to talk," Mr Todd said.

Mr Todd switched careers when he moved to Australia and began working in suicide prevention and became a pastor.

He now has about 17 years of experience in the field and hopes to share his skills with the local community.

This Sunday, October 13 at the Murrumbateman Community Church Hall, Mr Todd will hold a three-hour safeTALK workshop that teaches people how to ask someone if they're thinking about suicide and what to do if the answer is yes.

Safe stands for 'suicide alertness for everyone'.

Suicide can "affect everyone and anyone", Mr Todd said.

Eight people die by suicide per day, according to Lifeline.

Mr Todd said there have been recent deaths by suicide in the Yass Valley and that the drought is impacting local farmers.

The workshop will also address the myths and reduce stigma surrounding suicide, Mr Todd said.

"Just because someone dies by suicide doesn't mean they have a mental illness and just because someone has a mental illness doesn't mean they will think about suicide," he said.

Mr Todd also said that asking someone if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts won't give them the idea.

"Talking about it gives them permission and relief to share what they're thinking," he said.

The workshop will also help people who tried to have a conversation with someone but they shut down, Mr Todd said.

Mr Todd said men, who typically find it harder to talk about their emotions, find it easier to have a conversation while standing side-by-side or over an activity.

The rate of suicide among men is about three times higher than in females, according to Lifeline.

Statistics and tips like these will be on hand in the workshop.

Mr Todd has been delivering safeTALK since 2006.

His experience also includes establishing the Ozhelp Foundation, which mainly focuses on men in construction and mining. He's also been a psycho-safety work consultant and now delivers suicide prevention workshops to the government.

He and his wife set up the Bethany Healing Foundation in Murrumbateman in 2006 and have been working with people with trauma ever since. They run weekly sessions in the village and the organisation is sponsoring the upcoming safeTALK workshop.

The workshop is $35, which covers resources and refreshments.

  • Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636

We care about what you think.

Have your say in the form below: