Michaelle Luijs is a facilitator of a suicide support group at the Neighbourhood Centre, Toolooa Street, Gladstone.
Michaelle Luijs is a facilitator of a suicide support group at the Neighbourhood Centre, Toolooa Street, Gladstone. Brenda Strong

Suicide topic still taboo

A GLADSTONE mother has called on men to be more vocal about their mental wellbeing.

Michaelle Luijs is a facilitator at Gladstone's only Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Group and said more needed to be done to get people talking about the issue in town.

"Suicide is an illness, not a weakness," Michaelle said.

"It's a taboo topic in society and shouldn't be."

Four years ago Michaelle lost her 22-year-old son Kevin to suicide and while she grows stronger each day, this week her emotions came flooding back.

"This week has been hard. I have received a lot of phone calls (for the group) this week, with people wanting to talk," she said.

Earlier this week, Olympic boxer Billy Ward took his own life.

"There are not enough counsellors in town or services that are immediately available for people needing to speak to someone," Michaelle said.

"There's not enough support in construction either … if men need to talk on site, they should have counsellors available."

Michaelle also called for schools to be more proactive in raising awareness.

"They should have a questionnaire for students to fill out every so often to share how they feel."