Our guest speaker this week was John Parkinson who was speaking about “Let’s Talk”. Collin introduced John who is a former member, to update us on where the “Let’s Talk” Foundation has progressed over the past six years.
Prior to the commencement of the foundation, 16 people in 2016 were lost to suicide. This year so far, 11 people in Warrnambool have committed suicide. The impact on their friends and families is horrific. John noted there are 9 suicides each day in Australia, and additionally, approximately 70 people attempt suicide daily.
Mental illness, shame and embarrassment with reaching out for help, are major hurdles, and the Foundation works to remove the stigma of reaching out, and assists people to reach out for the help they need. The prevalence of mental health depression or anxiety will be approximately 50% of all Australians in their lifetime. One of the aims is to build confidence in communities to reach out for help.
Attitudes for coping include denial, secrecy and avoidance, but these mechanisms really just mask the symptoms. John informed the meeting that actual conversation has reduced to about 3% due to social media, emails and the internet becoming the main forms of communication, particularly amongst younger people, and this is a dramatic change.
John has one wish, that mental health is seen by the community as are other illnesses, for example a broken leg, cancer and other physical illnesses.

John presented a short video featuring Neale Danniher to highlight the challenges of life and the impact of life’s challenges and events on people, and that there is a sense of responsibility for individuals to recognise the opportunities to rise and meet challenges.
Keeping talking is important to enable people to find someone with whom they can effectively relate to deal with their concerns. We are all loved by somebody, but people with mental health issues find this hard to recognise. People are five times more likely to focus on negative things than positive things, so it is important we all acknowledge positive things. John noted we all have a responsibility to share good things with each other.
As a community, we can all work together to break the stigma of mental health.
John acknowledged the generous support our club continues to show for “Let’s Talk” and how important this is for our wider community. The Foundation continues to promote many initiatives and events in the community to raise awareness. There are lots of small things we can all do every day to keep ourselves happy, and laughter is one of the best forms of medication.
There is no such thing as perfection, but we can all be “fit for purpose”, where we can all be comfortable and be ourselves to be happy and contribute to our communities. John thanked the club as our continued support means they can continue to extend their reach to extend services out into the wider community to change attitudes.
In closing, John presented $400 to the club for our support at their recent BBQ at the Civic Green.
A number of questions were fielded from the floor which John answered. One of the key factors currently is that funds are invested into reactive work, not proactive and preventative work in mental health. High risk suicide groups are 15-24, 34-44 and over 84. Certain times of year can also be triggers.