Children whose parent or sibling has died by suicide can now attend virtual and in-person day camps specially designed to help them process grief and loss, thanks to support from the NSW Government.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the Let’s Talk Suicide camps run by charity Feel the Magic are the first of their kind in Australia, and carefully balance grief education and fun activities to appeal to children from seven to 17 years.
“Losing a parent or sibling to suicide is devastating. Not only do these children miss out on creating special memories with that family member, but it also makes them much more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts,” Mrs Taylor said.
“These camps provide a safe space for children to talk through their pain and loneliness with people who truly understand, as well as learn important skills to manage the waves of grief that will inevitably occur throughout their lives.”
Feel the Magic CEO Adam Blatch said the Let’s Talk Suicide program is also beneficial to the parents who must juggle their own grief while supporting their family.
“Suicide tragically claims the life of many parents every year, leaving behind heartbroken and devastated partners, children and grandparents,” Mr Blatch said.
“These camps are not only a place of comfort and learning for children but for their parents and carers – who are often called upon to answer the tricky, complex question: ‘why did they die?’
“Parents and carers who attend these camps are also educated about other support services available to them during these incredibly tough times, as well as being reassured they’re part of a supportive community.”
The Let’s Talk Suicide program is a collaboration between Feel The Magic, Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Roses in the Ocean and the University of Melbourne. It was initially piloted as a virtual program in 2020-21 with $148,336 funding from the NSW Government. The program received a further $298,790 funding in 2021-22 to allow for greater reach and to provide in-person programs.
The first in-person Let’s Talk Suicide camp will take place at Stanwell Tops on Sunday, 15 May and is open to families with children aged seven to 17 years. To find out more, or to register for future events, please visit Feel The Magic.
If you have been impacted by suicide, please call StandBy: Support After Suicide on 1300 727 247 at any time. This NSW-wide service provides a range of practical and emotional support to anyone who has been bereaved or impacted by suicide, including individuals, families, friends, witnesses and first responders. For more information, visit StandBy: Support After Suicide.
Original content from NSW Health. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.