YOUNG Border residents suffering the trauma of a friend’s suicide are being asked to take part in a major research project.
It is hoped the project will help tailor support and services for those affected.
Clinical psychologist and mental health expert Warren Bartik is doing the research at the University of New England as part of his PhD studies.
“There’s very little research on the friends of those who have died by suicide,” he said.
“My particular focus is on rural young people.”
Mr Bartik hopes to interview about a dozen people aged 12 to 24.
He will conduct interviews at six rural areas in NSW and Queensland.
He will be in Albury from Saturday until Thursday, asking those who take part about their grief and how the loss of a friend had affected their lives.
Mr Bartik said a whole range of outcomes could arise from a suicide, including a greater propensity for self-harm.
“But that’s been kind of done generically across the population,” he said.
“What’s been missed are the young friends.
“Why young people are of critical importance is because they are going through enormous transitional life development changes and stages.
“So what are the implications for them?”
Mr Bartik said a pilot project on the issue a few years ago had suggested young friends felt they didn’t deserve support or help because there were more important people around, such as family members.
Many felt they just had to manage their grief in the best way they could.
That was usually through unhealthy means such as drinking, Mr Bartik said.
Many coped by isolating themselves.
“How rural communities support and work with young people is a critical factor in terms of their health and well- being,” Mr Bartik said.
He said he hoped The Border Mail’s Ending the Suicide Silence campaign would encourage people to take part.
He emphasised people would not be identified.
“Only pseudonyms will be used and locations won’t be identified — it will be totally anonymous,” he said.
Anyone wishing to take part can phone Mr Bartik on 0429 100 091 or by email at email@example.com. Those under 18 need their parents’ permission to take part.