’Opening up’ on mental health

Akuol and Nyibil Amum talk about their son Oyiti at the tribute service. 278849_01 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

After walking 1000 kilometres, an inspiring Cranbourne father stood still with a hall of family and friends to pay respects to his late son.

It was about “opening up” for Nyibil Amum and wife Akuol Amum and 500 supporters that packed St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Noble Park on 7 May.

They spoke about youth suicide and mental health challenges, and the need to seek help from parents, friends and professionals.

It was just over a year since Mr Amum’s son Oyiti, a supremely talented basketballer and young leader, took his own life.

Mr Amum, a Dandenong-based mental health worker, spoke about knowing the “early warning signs” that your child suffers a mental health issue and to seek early intervention.

“Families must know what to do if they cannot handle their young one.

“Suggest to them to talk to someone who knows young people, encourage them to seek professional help.

“There are people who can help.”

Oyiti’s young friends and peers addressed the event, spelling the “reality of what’s happening in our community”.

Mr Amum felt the mutual support and grief in the room.

“It gave me encouragement to be strong, that I was not alone. I saw others have suffered.

“It’s not easy losing your child.”

Recently, Mr Amum embarked on a ‘walk of hope’ from Melbourne to Canberra and Sydney to tackle the tragic scourge of youth suicide.

Along the way, he raised $10,000 to launch Oyiti Foundation for Multicultural Youth as a “voice for the voiceless”.

And he met with David Coleman, who is Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

The next step is to seek funding to train people in mental health and counselling, so to start providing services within Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

The foundation has teamed up with Red Roo Basketball to stage sports groups on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“This is a collective effort,“ Mr Amum said.

“We need to involve local councils, the local communities to solve this together.“

In Australia, about 3000 people take their own lives a year – about eight a day. And one in five Australians have a mental health condition.

Details: facebook.com/OFFMCY

If you need help, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or beyond blue on 1300 22 4636.