Education and Suicide Prevention

Posted on: 17/06/2016


In 2011, when our community was at crisis point with a spate of youth suicides, we created a suicide prevention program that could be implemented in schools quickly. The program trained participants to recognise when someone was at risk of suicide and gave them the skills to intervene appropriately.

Now, thanks to you our wonderful donors, we have raised over $500,000 to keep the Living Works ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) program running and have trained over 5,000 parents, carers, teachers, medical professionals, students, friends and community.

A fresh approach to Suicide Prevention

While there is definitely increased community awareness - people are realising the importance of open communication and seeking help earlier. However, our job is not yet done.

What we have identified is children as young as eight, coming to school highly anxious and unable to identify let alone manage their emotions. Unable to cope with day to day issues, children are lashing out, yelling and crying.

At our very core is our belief that early intervention is paramount, and we know building resilience in our community is a priority. So we partnered with Headspace Casey/Cardinia to deliver resilience training for adults and one for children.

Resilience for Life is a four week program for anyone aged 18 and over. The program recognises the specific challenges we face in our day to day lives and assists in developing the skills of mindfulness and balanced thinking so that people are better able to navigate life’s challenges and manage emotions.

Friends for Life (8-11 year olds) My Friends - Youth (12-17 year olds) are 8 week workshops that fit into our My Friends program. My Friends gives children skills around recognising and preventing anxiety and increasing emotional resilience and problem solving abilities – all of which are important lifelong coping skills.

In the first four months of this year we have already trained over 110 people across these two programs. A further 12 workshops are scheduled over the coming few months, targeting more than 300 adults and students.

‘I was on the brink of suicide. The Resilience for Life workshop helped me re-address the way I thought about myself. It challenged my unhelpful thoughts and gave me new strategies to encourage a positive way forward. The road to recovery is a long one, but I am well on my way, thanks to Windermere.’

Interested in taking part in what? Contact Gen Dawson on (03) 5995 4655, email or visit


In early March the Bureau of Statistics reported a steep rise in suicide, the highest in fact since 2001.

In one article that appeared in The Age, the Chief Executive of Lifeline said that “we’ve made it OK to start talking about mental health, but we’re still not giving people enough skills to become capable of preventing suicide”.

At Windermere, we’re addressing this through our ASIST program.

One of the families that the ASIST program has been able to is Joelle and Henri who lost their daughter, Sophie, to suicide.  Here is their remarkable story.

'I feel sad all the time. I feel like crying over anything. Why do I feel that way?  Nobody understands me.  Nobody can help me.'   These were Sophie's words during her battle with mental illness.  Her sadness was followed by self- harm, deep depression and anorexia.   Her parents knew they had to act fast.

“It was such an intense time”, recalls her mother, Joelle.   "We reached out and explored all the professional medical care available and still that didn’t make a difference to our beautiful 16 year old daughter Sophie, our ‘Soflet”.  Despite every strategy and treatment put in place they were unsuccessful in their attempt to cure her illness and sadly, in July 2013, Sophie passed by suicide. 

Two and half years on, Sophie’s parents, Joelle and Henri, accept that some of their questions will never be answered.  However, by attending the LivingWorks Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) at Windermere, they have learnt the importance of being educated and ‘suicide aware’ and how it can help others in their community. 

“It’s imperative that as a community we educate ourselves, that we feel comfortable saying the word suicide and that Windermere continues to offer vital support through training to those in greatest need,” says Joelle “We support Windermere because it’s one way of honouring the life of our beautiful daughter, Sophie.”