First of a kind Let's Talk Suicide

Mental Health Minister backs ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camp

First of a kind ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camps

Thanks to vital support from the NSW Government and Minister for Mental Health, Regional Health and Women, Bronnie Taylor, Feel the Magic can help more children grieving the suicide of their parent or sibling.

Let’s Talk Suicide camps, a first of their kind in Australia, are offered to kids aged seven to 17 who are grieving the suicide of a loved one.

The Feel the Magic ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camps, a first of their kind in Australia, are offered to kids aged seven to 17 who are grieving the suicide of a loved one. These camps give grieving kids the mental tools and coping skills to help manage their grief, as well as a community to lean on.

Supporting children and families affected by suicide

Feel the Magic Chief Executive Officer, Adam Blatch said “Sadly, suicide claims the life of many parents every year, leaving behind heartbroken and devastated partners, children, and grandparents. The Let’s Talk Suicide program provide a safe space for children to learn new skills to manage their grief and talk through their pain and loneliness with people who truly understand. It is also a vital support to parents and carers who must juggle their own grief.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 49 years old in Australia (Australian Government, Department of Health), with many of these instances resulting in a child having to mourn the loss of a parent or sibling.  Read more about the prevalence of childhood bereavement here.

With the support of the NSW Government, Feel the Magic can offer this critical Let’s Talk Suicide program to more grieving children.

The suicide bereavement program is funded by the NSW Government and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor encourages affected parents and carers to enrol their children and teens. “I cannot imagine the enormous, heart-breaking task of explaining to your child why a parent or sibling felt their only option was to take their own life,” Minister Taylor said. “We want these parents and carers to know that they are not alone and there is a community of people who understand their pain and grief and will support them as they work through it as a family.”

An impactful collaboration

Let’s Talk Suicide has been created as a collaboration to ensure that the program is as impactful as possible. Partners include the NSW Ministry of Health who support this program as part of their ‘Towards Zero Suicides’ initiative, The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Roses in the Ocean, and the University of Melbourne.

First in-person ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camp

Initially a virtual Zoom-based program, the first in-person ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ (LTS) camp took place at Stanwell Tops on the 15 May for children aged seven to 17 years of age. “Now with in-person camps, kids can build a connection with others facing grief and experience the benefits of the program, face to face.” Said Mr Blatch.

Helping children deal with loss

Created specifically for kids who are grieving the suicide of a loved one, LTS teaches bereaved children how to heal from the guilt, shame and blame that often comes with suicidal grief.

The program is developed in collaboration with clinical psychologists, the NSW Ministry of Health, leading suicide support organisations, and those with a lived experience.

At the LTS camps, kids will learn the skills, tools, and coping mechanisms to help them deal with grief, even when they’re in triggering situations. They have a safe place to explore their grief and heal, with other children who can relate to them like no one else.

Find out more here, register your interest, or contact 1300 602 465.

Crisis support

Please note we do not offer crisis services. If you require urgent assistance, to ensure your safety, please go to your nearest hospital’s accident and emergency department or if you’re in need of immediate emotional support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Grief Line on 1300 845 745. Please take care. 

8th Night of Magic

The 8th Night of Magic

Jazz, generosity, friends, and magic filled the room at the 8th Night of Magic last weekend.

A sincere thanks to everyone there – your company and kindness made it the most successful Night of Magic ever!

The money raised will directly support over 800 Feel the Magic Talk Time sessions – that is an outstanding achievement! Talk Time is a psychoeducational session at camp for kids to learn how to face, feel and heal with their grief.

From all of us at Feel the Magic, thank you for your immense generosity!

We look forward to seeing everyone there again in 2023 to help us reach more grieving kids.

We say a huge thanks to our families, volunteers and supporters for helping us do what we do to serve the community around us.

Our 8th Night of Magic gala dinner would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and partners.

We thank the Saunders family, Casella Family Brands, SouthTrade International, Fisher & Paykel, Channel 9, Affinity Diamonds, BDC Partners, Smithfield RSL, SDG Spatial Data Group, Wests Tigers Foundation and Metway Developments.

A special thank you goes to our Night of Magic organising committee for your time and energy in helping to make the night such a success. Thank you Adam Blatch, Kristy Thomas, Sean Preece, Sam Trattles, Michael Zann, Nicole Suffling, Bridget Sakr, Alex Doyle, and Isabella Mee.

We must also acknowledge our Mission Partner The Saunders Family Foundation for their continued support for Feel the Magic. From the very beginning, their support has funded numerous Camp Magic programs and fundraising events. Monica and Betty have continued the proud Saunders family legacy of supporting those in need.

We could not be more grateful and appreciative of their continued and impactful support. Thank you for your belief and support in the Feel the Magic vision.

Daren McMullen

Meet our newest Ambassador Darren McMullen

Feel the Magic is pleased to welcome Darren McMullen as a proud Ambassador.

You may recognise Darren from ‘The Voice Australia’, ‘House Husbands’ or ‘Sea Change’.

As a mental health advocate, Darren noticed the link between mental health issues, suicide, and grief. We are thrilled to have Darren on board where he will be volunteering at Feel the Magic camps and events throughout the year.

Darren recently sat down for a chat with some of our Feel the Magic campers. He shared a bit about himself, some of his experiences of mental health issues and grief, plus his passion to support Feel the Magic to help grieving kids heal.

What is something we may not know about you?

I am originally from Scotland and moved here when I was a teenager. I have lived all over the world, spent much of the last 10 years in America and have been here since the start of COVID.

I am a secret Disney fan and dream of being on Broadway one day. I’d love to do that. I love Formula 1 racing and I’m a massive tennis fan.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Not an actor but an astronaut! But I soon realised, thanks to my teacher at the time, that my maths wasn’t strong enough to be an astronaut.

What has brought you to Feel the Magic?

I have lost friends to suicide and supported many more as they struggled with mental health issues. And I realised many of these friends had lost their parents when they were young.

What I love about Feel the Magic is that you are helping kids and teens to live with their grief in a healthy way.

It was a no brainer. This is such a special charity where the money raised is used to make a difference at the ground level. It just felt right.

Many people would know you from ‘The Voice Australia’ and you have a spent nearly two decades working across prime-time networks in Australia, the UK, and US.

Why now become an Ambassador for Feel the Magic?

The reason why I got into this industry in the first place was to help people or to give a voice to people who didn’t have a voice. I am privileged to be able to get to people through the medium of entertainment. My goal from a young age, was always to make a difference in the world and to help people who are less fortunate than me.

I have a great association with Feel the Magic. The fact that you support children and are helping to mitigate mental health issues for people growing up is something that is close to me having lost friends to suicide and witnessed the effects of grief.

I am looking forward to spreading the word about Feel the Magic, meeting more campers, and helping to raise awareness of such an important children’s grief education program.

We know Darren will have an amazing impact on helping Feel the Magic support more grieving kids and teens by raising awareness. Welcome to the team Darren!

National Volunteer Week

This year National Volunteer Week is held on the 16th – 22nd of May and is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering. Volunteering brings people together, it builds communities, and creates a better society for everyone. National Volunteer Week is a chance for us at Feel the Magic to recognise the vital work of our volunteers and to say thank you.  

Feel the Magic exists to help children and families with their grieving process by facilitating free programs and camps, as well as fostering a community of people. The literature suggests that there is a significant benefit to feeling supported and connected, particularly when faced with challenging life events, such as the death of a loved one. Loneliness and inadequate social support among bereaved individuals raise concerns about the risks to emotional, mental, and physical health for grievers. Without our dedicated volunteers at Feel the Magic, it wouldn’t be possible for us to deliver the support services we offer. For more information on the specific programs and camps we offer, click here.   

Benefits of volunteering 

Volunteering offers vital support to people in need, worthwhile causes, and a sense of community, however, the individual benefits of volunteering can be enormous. The right volunteering opportunity can help you connect with a community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. Research findings have identified that giving to others can even help protect your mental and physical health, and provide a sense of purpose to the volunteer. 

  • Volunteering often helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, depression and anxiety.  
  • The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being.  
  • Being helpful to others provides immense enjoyment, and your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity, ultimately increasing self-confidence.  
  • Doing good for others and the community may provide you with a natural sense of accomplishment.  
  • Helping others triggers the reward pathway in the brain known as the mesolimbic system. The release of neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vasopressin give you a buzz sometimes known as the ‘helpers high’.  
  • No matter your age or life situation, volunteering is a means to provide a sense of purpose, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life. 

Volunteering is a way to feel a sense of belonging, catch feel-good emotions, embrace your passions and open the door to life satisfaction. A big thank you to our existing volunteers for your unwavering commitment and dedication to Feel the Magic. If you are interested in volunteering with us at Feel the Magic, click here for more information.

5 ways to help a child grieving a death by suicide

Use language that is age-appropriate and easily understandable

It is important to recognise that the death of a loved one is difficult for children and teens to comprehend, although suicide is particularly confusing and very difficult to understand. It is important to talk openly about suicide in an age-appropriate manner and provide honest facts to them. If you are unsure how to answer a question or how to talk to a child in an age-appropriate manner, it is best to seek advice from either a professional or family and friends.

Encourage Remembering

Sharing memories, telling stories, asking questions and establishing rituals are all healthy ways for children and adolescents to remember their loved one. This is particularly important as some adolescents will encounter social stigma, making them feel uncomfortable or unwilling to talk about their lost loved one. Some children may also benefit from creating a memory book or box, writing stories or poems, or creating an artwork.

Give comfort, hugs and reassurance

Reassure the child that is grieving that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some children or adolescents may worry that expressing certain emotions or asking certain questions will upset others. Reassure them that it is okay to ask questions, express their emotions and grieve in the way that works for them.

Some children and teens bereaved by suicide may be particularly insecure and worried about abandonment, leading to them showing signs of clinginess, fear and less confidence. It is important to be patient with anxiety around separation and continuously provide them with comfort and love. It is also important to reassure the child that they did not cause the death, as they may be asking themselves “Did I cause this to happen?” and feel guilty or responsible for the death.

It is best to be honest

It is important for a child to be told the truth about the death of their loved one in a safe and nurturing space by a main caregiver. At some point the truth will come out and it is best for them to be told the truth in an age-appropriate way. It may be helpful to ask the child what they think “being dead” means and correct any misunderstandings they may have. Avoid using statements that can be easily misunderstood such as “gone to sleep”, as this can cause the child to experience anxiety about sleeping. Remember, it is never too late to tell the child the truth.

Listen without judgement

A helpful way to support a grieving child or adolescent is to listen without judging, interpreting or evaluating. Allow open conversation and respond to the person by simply repeating what they’ve said so that they know they’ve been heard. Sometimes they may not be ready to talk, and in that case, reassure them that you are available whenever they are ready to do so. Some people may avoid talking to someone bereaved by suicide out of fear that you will use the wrong terms or that you will make the situation worse. The silence of other people may reinforce isolation, social stigma and shame that they may already be feeling.

Coping with Mother’s Day after your mum has died

For a child or teen whose mum has died, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day. As with other significant days, it can be a time when grief is brought to the surface, emotions are heightened, and it may serve as a confronting reminder that mum is no longer there. The following tips may help a bereaved child or teen navigate Mother’s Day.

  1.  Do things that remind you of your mum on Mother’s Day

Doing things that remind you of your mum on Mother’s Day can help you feel closer to your mum. Putting your mum’s favourite flowers in a vase, cooking your mum’s favourite dinner, listening to her favourite music, or doing an activity that she enjoyed or you used to do together, are different ways of remembering your mum on Mother’s Day and maintaining your connection with her.

  1. Do whatever you want on Mother’s Day without pressure or expectations

For some people, it will be a sad day, for others it may be a happy day, and some people will feel neither happy nor sad. Similarly, for some people it will be a day to remember mum, whilst others may want to avoid it. Each year, one’s feelings and desires will change and be different for everyone. It is important that you do what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to feel and there is no right or wrong way to spend Mother’s Day. 

  1. Make a special card in memory of your mother

In the lead up to Mother’s Day, the shops and Mother’s Day stalls at schools may be overwhelming for children bereaved by the death of their mum. Even if your mum has passed away, you still have a mum. Buying a card allows you to think about your mother and connect with her. Writing a message to her, whatever you want to say, is a beautiful way of expressing your love for your mum. You could write an update about your life, or share a special memory you have together, or simply talk about how you’re feeling. This process might make the shops and Mother’s Day stalls at school a little easier. Children and teens might also want to celebrate other important women in their life on Mother’s Day, such as an aunty, grandmother or caregiver.

  1. Talk about your mum

Mother’s Day can be a good opportunity to talk about your mum to family, friends, or people who knew your mum. Talking about your own memories with your mum or hearing about other people’s memories is a beautiful way to remember her on Mother’s Day. You might learn things you didn’t know before, such as what she was like as a child.

  1.  Avoid social media on Mother’s Day

For adolescents in particular, it may feel like they are bombarded with social media posts of friends and their mums. If you think that seeing other people’s Mother’s Day posts might cause you distress, try to limit your use of social media on Mother’s Day.