CQ support officer's story of survival inspiring others
IT'S been almost three years since Tracey Gale lost her brother to suicide.
And almost two decades since she tried to take her own life to escape severe depression.
Tracey survived and says 20 years after she tried to give up, she absolutely loves life and is "super grateful".
"You don't know you need help, so once I started to get some support, I decided if I was going to put in as big an effort to end my life, I was going to put in as much effort to live," she said.
"It wasn't easy ... it takes, courage, bravery, honesty and humility."
Tracey has dedicated much of her life now to speaking out about the once taboo subject.
In her role as suicide prevention aftercare support coordinator for Artius in Rockhampton, Tracey shares her story almost daily.
In her own enterprise, Silver Thread, she teaches other people how to share their story safely. Last week she was a guest speaker at the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Adelaide.
Tracey's brother was 44 when he ended his life.
At the time, he didn't appear depressed, but she says looking back there were signs he wasn't engaging as much, that he was lonely.
For his family, his death was traumatic, devastating, unexpected and "world-tipping".
Though she'd lost faith in the mental health system, Tracey again sought help after her brother died.
She says the system is definitely improving because of the increasing role those with a lived-experience now play.
"There's a growing belief in the value of that ... those who have survived, the bereaved or those who have had thoughts of suicide," she said.
"There's a growing movement of people with lived expertise."
"That human to human connection, sharing those stories ... there's more empathy and people know they are not alone, that there's hope to hold on."
Last week, Australia's leading mental health and suicide prevention organisations joined forces to launch the #YouCanTalk campaign.
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The campaign is an unprecedented national collaboration designed to help the public talk openly about suicide and give people confidence to ask direct questions and act as 'eyes and ears' to help people get help before reaching crisis point.
It includes recognising the signs that someone may be thinking about suicide, how to talk about it openly and honestly and what to do if someone says they are not coping.
Tracey Gale says, with hindsight, she wishes she had asked her brother if he was thinking about taking his own life.
"It's not easy to ask, especially if you don't know what to do after you ask the question," she said.
"The key thing is to try to help the person to get help.
"Don't be afraid to walk into that space with them, listen, validate their feelings and then get help.
"Phone Lifeline or Triple 0 or any of those organisations who are there straight away.
"Tell them you are here, and don't be afraid to ask if that's what they are thinking.
"For them that's a massive relief because it's something they've been holding inside and now they know someone cares enough to see it."
If you need immediate help call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or Triple 0.