The ELM Network to launch Castlemaine-based peer support group for people bereaved by suicide

ELM Peer Support Group members Rachel, Rosie, Nicole, Anna, Francesca and Simeon. Picture: ROBBIE NOAKES
ELM Peer Support Group members Rachel, Rosie, Nicole, Anna, Francesca and Simeon. Picture: ROBBIE NOAKES

A PEER support group for people bereaved by suicide is being launched in Castlemaine.

Monthly meetings will take place from April, with peer support to be provided by trained, community-based volunteers who have shared a similar loss.

Group leader Rachel Stewart said the initiative arose from a perceived need within the community.

“Having experienced suicide in my own family, I felt devastated and isolated around the issue,” she said.

“There was really no one to talk to and no support services at that time.”

She realised the value of a peer support group after attending one in the Macedon Ranges last year.

“I felt safe and supported and, for the first time, I felt understood,” Ms Stewart said.

“The experience was so powerful for me that I believe peer support after suicide should be available for all who want it, and we are looking forward to starting our own group in Castlemaine.”

Ms Stewart is part of the ELM Network – Every Life Matters – a suicide prevention and awareness group based in Mount Alexander.

Providing support to people bereaved by suicide is among the network’s aims.

Others include increasing understanding and awareness of suicide and suicide prevention and increasing people’s capacity to look after themselves and one another.

The ELM Network will celebrate the launch of its peer support group with a community gathering in Castlemaine on Saturday, March 17.

The event is scheduled to run from 1pm – 4pm at Victory Park and will include a short memorial walk, guest speakers, and an Open Mic for Hope.

The ELM Network said the community gathering was made possible through financial support from the Royal Flying Doctors Service and Murray Primary Health Network, and through the ongoing support of Castlemaine Community House.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact: