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Journeys : Oct Nov 2010
October / November 2010 15 In our community Member in focus Ros Lewis lives in Launceston with her husband. She has two adult sons and her mother lives in Wynyard. Ros has been a RACT member since 1971. Why did you join the RACT? It was just what you did. I bought my first car, a secondhand VW, in 1971. My parents were members and my sons have also joined. I think my mother has a gold pass. What's the most memorable time you've been helped by being a member of the RACT? The timing belt went, north of the Breadalbane roundabout, on the way home from the Longford Wildlife Park with two tired children. Luckily there were embankments and I can still see them climbing up and rolling dow n while we waited for the R ACT. Tell me about your current car. It's a secondhand 1990 Laser. What is your biggest motoring gripe? Not a lot except that I feel sorry for new drivers who now have such a long process to get through before they can drive on their own. Not everyone has someone to tutor them or a car to lear n in. Public transport is not available in many places and times. Often you need a car to get to work and this is a significant problem for young people and some migrants. What is your most precious material possession? Most things can be replaced but maybe I'd grab my address book and phone. Maybe if I start to forget more or move to a smaller home, I will pick out a few things besides photos that trigger memories like music, a scarf, a pair of boots, things made by my family. What is your most memorable holiday moment? My first overseas experience in Papua New Guinea. As a university student in 1965, I went straight from Tasmania into tropical heat. On the first day, we went to a local market in Port Moresby and I saw people whose lives did not include shoes, chairs or refrigeration. It was a close up glimpse of a whole different world and it changed my world view. I remember we brought tropical fr uit back to our non-air-conditioned hotel room and sat on the bed in minimal clothing eating pineapple. What about your favourite holiday destination? Maria Island. It has that sense of being away from it all. I have shared times there with so many of my family and friends. I love anywhere on the East Coast. When I grew up on the North West we did not need any other coast! Where do you plan to spend your next holiday? I still have itchy feet and I would go anywhere if I could! I have various ideas, ranging from the far north of Australia to Turkey and the Aegean coast. around, even when their home lives are disastrous. But in this arena, I think young people hearing some facts and home- truths from another young person is more effective. I remember one teenager, who had sur vived several serious suicide attempts, telling a high school class that life was like a series of waves and that when you were dow n in the wave's trough you could not see that life would lift you to the top of the wave again. For many high school students and young adults, their perception of reality is affected by access to alcohol and dr ugs. These exacerbate what other wise might be seen as a tough time that could be sur vived. Social and family networks become important. A parent's awareness of what their children, no matter how old, are going through can provide a safety net of question s or simply an offer of support. Access to a professional they trust to keep confidences can be critical, as behaviours may ring alar m bells that aren't apparent to family or friends. For the middle-aged and the elderly, feeling suicidal tends to be a reaction to undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues, or real-life problems that seem insurmountable -- loneliness, marriage break-ups, finances, employment issues. Help is there, but it may not be easily accessible and often the individual does not recognise that it is needed. We can all be heroes. We may not have to dash into a burning house or struggle to get a drow ning person to shore, but we can look around us and watch for the signs of someone at risk. We can reach out a helping hand. We can ask 'Are you okay?' We can, if the situation seems serious, ask 'Are things so bad that you could be thinking of ending your life?' We can make sure that they get professional help -- putting them in touch, or offering to go with them. When I begin to work with someone who is suicidal, I feel as if I am holding them by only one hand as they hang over a cliff, and I hope that I can pull them back up. As I try to tease out the issues that have sent them there, it often seem s that their journey began with small things -- and if someone had been there for them, they may have avoided the dark path they have travelled. Robyn Maggs is a clinical psychologist working in private practice. She has a special interest in health problems such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. When working at the Prince of Wales Hospital in NSW she was appalled at the very young age of children who were suicidal and today is equally concerned at current statistics that show Tasmania has the second-highest suicide rate in Australia.
Aug Sep 2010