Hundreds of musicians are to be offered free suicide first aid training, as part of ongoing support for the beleaguered industry – which has hit rock bottom during COVID-19.
Only last month, a report said that up to 50% of people working in music were set to leave due in the dire financial situation imposed by COVID-19.
Leading mental health music charity Listen Up Music has partnered with suicide prevention agency LivingWorks Australia and are set to roll out 200 online skills training courses over the coming months.
The move recognises the impact COVID-19 has had on music industry professionals, one of the first workforces to be hit by initial and ongoing pandemic restrictions to live performances.
Only last month, a report said that up to 50% of people working in music were set to leave due to the dire financial situation imposed by COVID-19.
“Musicians are continuing to struggle both physically and financially as the pandemic ramifications continue to put pressure on the beleaguered industry,” said Listen Up Music CEO, Ali Taylor.
“Thankfully, we are starting to see a relaxing of restrictions and, whilst we do not want to be alarming, we also want musicians to keep well and to be able to support each other as a community.
“That is why we have teamed up with LivingWorks Australia, who have kindly provided 200 free START licenses for us to provide to the community.
“The online training will ensure that music industry professionals can have the confidence and ability to reach into fellow professionals when they are vulnerable and may be thinking of suicide or other psychological distressing issues,” he said.
Much like CPR, START online provides the skills to spot the signs of suicide, directly ask the question if someone is thinking of suicide, keep them safe, and referring to an appropriate service.
However, if the person is not thinking of suicide, it also ensures a compassionate conversation has started and an opportunity to refer to other services, such as drug and alcohol, relationship, financial, or mental health related.
LivingWorks CEO Shayne Connell said: “The impacts of COVID-19 have left many of us feeling unsettled, uncertain and lonely, particularly those who have been living through restrictions, and musicians appear to be one of the most impacted workforces.
“Whilst these are associated risk factors for suicide, there is no current evidence that during this pandemic that there has been increasing suicide rates, including Australia, other than data from Japan early 2021 among young people.
“However, there is no room for complacency as we know from the research from traumatic events, such as natural disasters, it’s in the post-event period where we typically see the potential for an increase in suicidality.
“Hence the move to increase prevention efforts now and providing training as part of early intervention strategies, includes equipping communities with the skills to act on their gut feelings that close colleagues, friends, or relatives, may need immediate support.
“This suicide first aid training is a way for musicians to do something practical to support vulnerable colleagues, keep them safe and connect them to care early.
“We know asking someone about suicide is a conversation that can change a life and we need to complement essential conversation skills with building community capacity for suicide first aid” he added.
$10k donation towards work to support bushfire affected music communities
Through its music-focused events and education, Listen Up Music’s vision is to empower every music industry professional to develop and maintain positive mental health. They run events and services that build community, facilitate storytelling and promote positive mental health.
With that in mind, LivingWorks has also donated $10,000 towards work to support bushfire affected communities, linking up with Project Regeneration.
“We are still working through the details, but we aim to set up songwriting workshops and performances in three bushfire affected locations,” said Mr Taylor.
“It will team up local musicians with regional performers and will help use music to contextualise the traumatic events and help bring communities together via performances in the bushfire areas.”
Project Regeneration is funded through the money raising efforts of Magda Szubanski and Will Connelly, using PTSD art-health therapy in bushfire affected communities led by University of Canberra, with support of LivingWorks and The Phoenix Centre.
For more information on Listen Up Music’s events, visit www.listenupmusic.com.au
Picture: (left to right) Listen Up Music CEO/Co-founder Ali Taylor, LivingWorks Aus CEO Shayne Connell and Listen Up Music Chair/Co-founder Hank Paul.