Silent Ripples memorial service hears Headspace's Suzanne Fuzzard speak about progress against loneliness in Murray Bridge

For life: Janet Kuys, Andrew Allanson, Suzanne Fuzzard and Trevor Smith gather at the Round House, Murray Bridge for Silent Ripples' annual memorial service. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
For life: Janet Kuys, Andrew Allanson, Suzanne Fuzzard and Trevor Smith gather at the Round House, Murray Bridge for Silent Ripples' annual memorial service. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Murray Bridge's teenaged girls are increasingly seeking help with mental health issues, but the boys still have a way to go.

That was one takeaway from Headspace's Suzanne Fuzzard, who spoke at a memorial service for people who lost their lives to suicide on Sunday.

She said her organisation had broadened its focus over the past decade from mental health to supporting young people in more complex situations.

A majority of the young people it helped – up to three quarters – were female, she said.

However, important strides had been taken towards helping more boys, particularly the inclusion of sporting clubs in anti-depression and anti-drug initiatives.

"What we know is that men have more influence in supporting young men to seek help," she said.

She also noted that today's young people were more open to talking about mental health than previous generations.

"They talk to their friends, they bring their friends to Headspace," she said.

"My generation and older people have a stigma around reaching out for help, but more and more young people are much more readily seeking help, or bringing friends along (for us) to help."

She also spoke about the growing appreciation among professionals such as herself that exercise and nutrition benefited mental health, perhaps as much or more so than medication.

Other 21st-century trends had proven more problematic.

She noted that everyone in society, but especially teenagers, were becoming lonelier and more isolated as technology changed communication habits.

"Building family support, connecting and supporting relationships, we see as core for us at Headspace, but important to the community as well," she said.

"It doesn't sound like rocket science, but it seems to be really hard these days."

Yet time and time again she said she was filled with hope as young people demonstrated their resilience and ability to adapt.

The service, which was emceed by celebrant Tom Haig, also featured songs from Andrew Allanson and Barney Rebel and words from Silent Ripples' Janet Kuys and Trevor Smith.

A minute's silence was held for almost 40 people lost to suicide in the Murraylands over the years, many of whom had been honoured with pavers in the memorial garden at the Round House, Murray Bridge, where the service was held.

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