Inspirational survivor coming to town

Mental health advocate, suicide survivor and inspirational speaker Rachael Stevens is coming to Tumut. Photo: Tracy Lee Photography.

TUMUT residents have the chance to hear a message of hope and a story of survival when mental health advocate Rachael Stevens speaks here on Friday, September 1.

Rachael is a survivor of a suicide attempt, depression and a severe eating disorder.

Her powerful and honest story of recovery has inspired and motivated thousands of people throughout Australia.

At 15, Rachael was hospitalised into a psychiatric ward with anorexia.

Later she dropped out of high school after being hospitalised again for attempting suicide.

At this point she was informed she would never be able to work or study full time for the remainder of life.

However, she overcame these immense challenges and recovered. Today she bravely shares her personal struggles to inspire others to seek help and move forward. Rachael will speak at St Stephens Uniting Church Hall in Wynyard Street at 7pm on September 1, and is looking forward to it.

“I’m very excited to be visiting Tumut and connecting with the young people there,” she said.

“My passion is to see the next generation inspired that their future is bright.

I survived a suicide attempt and a severe eating disorder as a teenager, I now share my story with young people to illustrate to them that they don’t have to be a prisoner of their past.

That it doesn’t matter what you have been through, regardless of what has happened in your life your future can be bright.

I haven’t been to Tumut before, but I’m becoming increasingly invested in reaching out to rural areas.

Families and young people affected by mental illness in remote parts of Australia don’t receive as much support as urban areas do.

Suicide rates are often higher in rural places as well.

Therefore it’s important to be sharing positive stories that focus on hope and recovery in parts of Australia that have limited services and support.

Recently Patrick McGorry, an leading Australian expert in youth mental health said stories of suicide survivors are incredibly valuable.

He said “…the message from almost everyone who had survived a suicide attempt would actually dissuade others, not encourage them.

Almost in every case the person regrets the decision to make that attempt and is very grateful to have survived”.

Sharing stories of hope is powerful and important for communities.”

Tumut Community Church’s Paula Olsen has been instrumental in getting Rachael to Tumut.

“We met at an apostolic church conference in Queensland two years ago, and I found her really inspiring,” Mrs Olsen said.

“I knew then that she needed to come to Tumut, and I had been asking her ever since when she would be able to come here.”

Rachael has published her story as a novel, entitled The Skeleton Diaries.

Her book has inspired countless people suffering with eating disorders.

For her work inspiring hope in the lives of Australians, Rachael was an ACT Finalist for the 2017 Young Australian of the Year Award.

In 2016 she won the ACT Young Woman of the Year Award. “She has an incredible message of hope about overcoming mental illness, which is really appropriate for teenagers,” Mrs Olsen.

It is $5 for adults to attend Rachael’s workshop, which includes supper, but teenagers are free.

Rachael also partners with Life Choices Foundation to reach high schools students around Australia.

She speaks openly about challenging subjects head-on with clarity and compassion.

She is an outspoken advocate for youth mental health and suicide prevention.

She will be speaking at Gundagai High School on the night before she appears in Tumut.