With an increased focus on including the voice of lived experience within all suicide prevention service design, delivery, policy writing and research, the Life in Mind team reached out to Champion, Bronwen Edwards on where she believes Australia is heading in terms of suicide prevention efforts, and why Roses in the Ocean is a firm supporter of the National Communications Charter.
As well as the founding CEO of Roses in the Ocean, Bronwen is a mother of two, personal trainer, and beach lover. She started the suicide prevention charity, Roses in the Ocean after tragically losing her brother Mark to suicide in 2008.
What does being a Life in Mind Champion mean to you?
Roses in the Ocean is a lived experience of suicide organisation, and with that comes a responsibility to accurately represent the voices of anyone who has a lived experience. I think my role as a Life in Mind Champion is very important and I treat it with respect as I have the unique opportunity to share the insights of a lot of people. The privilege I have is being able to work with people with lived experience of suicide all the time, and it’s so important that we are a part of the Life in Mind Champions.
Why did Roses in the Ocean sign the National Communications Charter?
We signed The Charter because we believe it provides useful guidance for the community and the sector, around how to appropriately talk about suicide. The use of appropriate language is such a large part of Australia’s suicide prevention efforts, and The Charter’s principles of engagement give people the knowledge and confidence to safely talk about suicide, and ensures they are well-informed on how to best go about that.
Talking openly about suicide is a powerful thing and when people have the confidence to talk about suicide in a safe way, we know that this is incredibly helpful for people who are in distress. When people experiencing suicidal thoughts know you feel comfortable and confident having a conversation about suicide, they are often more likely to open up to you.
What led you to working in this space?
I began working in this space following the suicide of my brother Mark, as well as the experiences I had preceding his death as I tried to support him. The fact that I saw a lack of conversation around suicide, or helpful services at the time was what ultimately drove me to get involved. It was very apparent to me that the people who actually knew what it was like to be suicidal, bereaved or a carer, those voices were not being heard. That was the driving force behind me being involved. I believed that we needed to the voices of people who had walked in those shoes to be informing and designing the services they wanted and needed.
Do you believe Australia’s suicide prevention efforts need a renewed focus on lived experience and why?
Australia’s suicide prevention landscape had been in desperate need of the meaningful inclusion of the voice of lived experience and the insights these people bring for a long time. Rather than needing a renewed focus, I believe that until recently there wasn’t really a focus on lived experience at all. However, the voice of lived experience is now being heard and there is a genuine appetite by a large portion of both the sector and Government to meaningfully integrate these voices into policy, research, as well as service, design and delivery. I am excited and encouraged to see it getting decent traction and the respect it deserves.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Every day I get to wake up and know that I have the privilege of working with and walking alongside people with a lived experience of suicide. Then when I go home at the end of the day, I am blessed in that I feel like I have done something really meaningful.
Roses in the Ocean is a leading lived experience of suicide organisation, providing a critical national leadership, advocacy and policy, advisory, and workforce development role throughout Australia. The organisation was founded on and operates through the lens of lived experience of suicide.
Roses in the Ocean exists to save lives and reduce emotional pain and has been funded through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, Australian Government Department of Health, since January 2018.