Former The Bachelor contestant Brooke Blurton and Australian actor Troy Coward will be among a band of celebrities to pull on footy boots to support the suicide prevention cause.
For the second year, the Tackling Suicide Celebrity and Community Match has been organised by Outside the Locker Room, a mentoring and education program that provides professional development and support, in partnership with Youth Focus and Lifeline WA.
The March 9 event at Lathlain Park will draw a bevy of high-profile athletes and local personalities. The Perth Demons and Swan Districts will battle it out in the curtain raiser, the Youth Focus Cup, at 1.30pm, with both clubs recognising the important role sport can play in promoting positive mental health. The celebrity match will start at 4.30pm.
Blurton and Coward will join a line-up that includes former AFL stars Des Headland, Shaun McManus, Paul Hasleby, Dale Kickett, Troy Cook, Drew Petrie, Byron Schammer, Drew Banfield, Ryan Crowley, Adrian Barich and Jake Edwards.
Organisers hope the event will help foster community conversations to help improve mental wellbeing and prevent suicide.
Outside the Locker Room was founded by fourth generation AFL player Jake Edwards, who was diagnosed with depression at 19 and, at his lowest, contemplated suicide.
Now, Edwards is making it his mission to work with sporting clubs across Australia to educate young people about alcohol, drugs, self esteem, mental health and suicide.
Youth Focus Community Engagement Manager Chris Harris said Youth Focus was proud to be involved in the community event for the second year running.
“Sadly, suicide is the leading cause of preventable death amongst Australian youth, but we believe that as a community, we can make a positive difference to reduce these terrible statistics,” Mr Harris said.
“It is not OK that any young person believes that ending their life is a preferred option.
“To curb these numbers we must work together as a community. It is the collective social responsibility of each of us to ensure young people receive the support and help they need at the earliest opportunity.
“Events like this charity footy match help us build communities that have the skills and understanding to start conversations about mental health and help young people in need.”
Latest statistics show 51 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2017. For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.
Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 3678 young people and school and community education to another 6000.
Event organiser and Outside the Locker Room WA Program Manager Kristi Annear said her idea to hold a charity football match had been driven by a desire to foster greater awareness in the program in WA and, more generally, about youth mental health.
“Suicide rates are at a 20-year high, with WA rates 3.2% greater than the rest of the country. Without education and support services such as Outside the Locker Room and Youth Focus these numbers have the potential to keep rising,” Ms Annear said.
“Outside the Locker Room gives this demographic plus parents, teachers, club administration staff and coaches the knowledge to recognise the signs of depression and the effects that alcohol, drugs and social bullying have on this.
“We are not only increasing the mental health knowledge of these people but also developing socially aware future leaders in our communities.”
Entry to the event is $5 for adults and gold coin donation for children under the age of 16.
All proceeds raised will go towards mental health education programs provided by Outside the Locker Room and Lifeline WA in Perth.
If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443