‘Save our Mates’ suicide prevention campaign on Kangaroo Island

NEW MATES: Jordy Heinrich and Paul Bott from Landmark Kangaroo Island with wellness advocate and Lifeback Tracker founder Anthony Hart at the Kingscote Bowling Club.
NEW MATES: Jordy Heinrich and Paul Bott from Landmark Kangaroo Island with wellness advocate and Lifeback Tracker founder Anthony Hart at the Kingscote Bowling Club.

Local rural agencies and the Kangaroo Island Community Centre have teamed up with wellness advocate Anthony Hart to try and save lives.

It’s all about trying to “Save our Mates” by getting mates, families and the community talking about mental well-being.

Mr Hart has his own practical way to improve overall physical and mind health with a four-step program he developed, called Lifeback Tracker.

In October Elders sponsored the first of the series of “Save our Mates” get-together which took place on the Stokes Bay property of Jamie and Gaynor Bowden focusing on our fishing mates. 

Last week on Wednesday, November 28, Landmark held a second barbecue at the Kingscote Bowling Club focussing on our farmers. 

Former resident and farmer Reg Watters, who lost his own son to suicide, was instrumental in starting the KI campaign and getting Mr Hart over the Island.

HEALTH MISSION: Former islander Reg Watters and renowned mental health advocate Anthony Hart are teaming up to tackle suicide in rural communities.

HEALTH MISSION: Former islander Reg Watters and renowned mental health advocate Anthony Hart are teaming up to tackle suicide in rural communities.

Mr Hart, who tells his own remarkable story of how he survived a suicide attempt, spoke at both events about overcoming depression.

His own key to beating depression were the four steps to better mind health, which are reducing, removing or resting alcohol, regular exercise, a  regime of improving sleeping patterns and talking about your feelings, all part of his Lifeback Tracker program.

He suggests if you suspect someone of having depression, then get them talking by mentioning your own problems and battles.

The Lifeback Tracker – Mind Health Challenge contains wrist-bands to act as a reminder to the four steps, plus a booklet that people can use to mark and graph their progress.

Junction Community Centre co-ordinator Maree Baldwin said the “Save Our Mates” initiative supports people to devise ways to empower not just themselves, but their mates as well.

“The facts surrounding suicide are damming – rural workers are twice more likely to take their own lives than their city counterparts; three million Australians live with anxiety or depression; suicide is more than double the national road toll; each day eight Aussies lose their life to suicide, six of those are men,” she said.

The Lifeback Tracker booklets and wristbands are available at the community centre.

As the stigma of talking about mental health plays such a big part in having those hard conversations with our mates, Ms Baldwin is also working with a local KICE student on an a Healthy Headspace project centred on an echidna encouraging us to “talk about the prickly subject”.

It is hoped stickers and posters around the Island will get people talking about prickly subject of mental health and self-harm. 

If you or someone you know are feeling suicidal or distressed the following services are available to assist you: Mental Health Crisis Number 131 465, Suicide Call back Service 1300 659 467, Lifeline 131 114, Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800, Mensline Australia 1300 789 978.

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