Health heroes pumping out 3,318 push-ups for suicide prevention

WSLHD Towards Zero Suicides team (from left) Rowena Saheb, Alan Earls, Aisha Mohammed, Mitch Farrell and Matthew Gerts. Not pictured: Maja Niksic

If you see this team looking especially buff lately, know it’s not just their own health they’re thinking about as they power through 35 push-ups every day.

The new Towards Zero Suicides project team at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is working together to perform 3,318 push-ups this month – one for every person lost to suicide in Australia in 2019.

The Push-Up Challenge raises awareness of suicide prevention, as well as much-needed funds for Lifeline and headspace – the national youth mental health foundation.

It’s also a good bonding opportunity for four new recruits to the team: peer workers Alan Earls, Aisha Mohammed, Maja Niksic and Mitch Farrell, who all have lived experience of suicide.

“I thought because we’re a new team and we’ve had some connections recently with Lifeline, it would be a nice way to pay it forward to them and raise some money,” Alan said.

Similar to other peer workers in the district, the role of the new team is to use their lived experience to provide support for suicide prevention initiatives and walk alongside consumers experiencing suicidal crisis.

The team uses their lived experience of suicide, mental health and recovery to support and advocate for others.

They are currently working as part of the WSLHD Mental Health Services team, developing innovative services to support people at experiencing suicidal ideation or in crisis.

Rather than going to an emergency department, people in suicidal crisis will have the option to go to an alternative, non-clinical space where they can be supported by peer workers and be linked into other appropriate services, or have a suicide prevention outreach team come to them.

Towards Zero Suicides lead Rowena Saheb said the peer worker roles “are essential to progressing our suicide prevention agenda”.

“Our commitment to the inclusion of lived experience empowers people to see their lived experience of suicide and their recovery journey as an asset to an organisation and the community they service,” Rowena said.

“It’s about one person sitting beside another and sharing their experience, strength and hope.”

Alan Earls

Aishah added: “With my lived experience, I understand how daunting it can be to reach out. With our service, we want to normalise asking for help when you need it and making a safe place for being to come to when they are at their most vulnerable.”

The Push-Up Challenge has already raised more than $4.6 million for Lifeline and headspace so far this year. Click here support the WSLHD team in their goal of raising $3318.

To learn about the WSLHD Towards Zero Suicide Team contact Rowena Saheb,

For free, personal mental health support at any time, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

To find out more about the mental health services available for you or someone else in need, call the Mental Health Line at any time on 1800 011 511.

In an emergency, please call triple zero (000) immediately or go to a hospital emergency department.