Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network urges people to reach out through signs

POSTER BOY: Port Stephens Medal recipient and suicide awareness advocate Dave Sams wants to spread the message further. Picture: Sam Norris

POSTER BOY: Port Stephens Medal recipient and suicide awareness advocate Dave Sams wants to spread the message further. Picture: Sam Norris

A series of highly visible signs now adorn bus shelters in key locations across Port Stephens and demonstrate help is at hand.

The signs are the brainchild of Boat Harbour resident, Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network (PSSPN)  member and recent Port Stephens Medal recipient, Dave Sams.

“The project is about bringing down the barriers, the stigma, so we can really help people,” Mr Sams said.

Paradise Signs have made the billboards to fit the available spaces, with support from Soldiers Point Lions Club, Salamander Shores Fishing Club, Lifeline Hunter Central Coast, the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (PHN), and Port Stephens Council.

The signs contain information about phone and online crisis support but also other Lifeline crisis prevention services such as face o face counselling.

Mr Sams has been a tireless advocate for better mental health services in recent years. He even helped establish the suicide awareness event, Walk With Us.

He hadn’t encountered much trouble at all liaising with the various parties to make the sign project a reality.

“If you speak from the heart most people are pretty eager to help,” Mr Sams said.

PSSPN president Bernie Fitzsimons said the were in highly visible locations for a reason.

“These signs are about practical crisis prevention through encouraging people to open up and talk,” he said.

Five signs have already gone up in the area at Anna Bay, Soldiers Point and Salamander Bay, including two at Salt Ash.

“We are looking to for more prominent places for signs across the area, from Karuah to Fern Bay to Medowie and up to Nelson Bay,” Mr Fitzsimons said.

Suicide rates are at a 10 year high in Australia and are double the national road toll.

The network aims to reduce the impact of suicide in Port Stephens by engaging the community in discussions about suicide and educating the community in suicide awareness and intervention skills.

It offers links to a Lifeline survivors of suicide support group, books and courses.

Email portstephenssuicideprevention@gmail.com or call 0419 171 291.

To assist Dave Sams with the signs call 0431 670 579.

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