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Late local vet Dr Toby Apsimon, who tragically took his own life 20 years ago, was remembered at a memorial service held on Thursday.

Family, friends and community members attended, with Whyalla vet Dr Andrew Melville-Smith delivering a heartfelt speech about his former friend and colleague.

“Under the surface Toby had been struggling with depression for his whole life, a fact I only became aware of a day before he committed suicide,” he said.

“The problem, of course, is depression is a disease, just like a heart attack or cancer and needs no why. It can strike with little warning and rapidly become a terminal disease.”

Dr Melville-Smith noted that veterinarians are four times as likely to take their own life than the general population.

“Long work hours, on call nights, demanding cases and clients, lack of support and knowing how to do it painlessly and swiftly all contribute to this,” he said.

“Looking back on the events of 20 years ago, the signs were all there with Toby, we were not aware of them. We should remember them, so we can ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

During the memorial a plaque dedicated to the memory of Toby was installed in the garden of the Whyalla Veterinary Clinic on McDouall Stuart Avenue.

“In dedicating this plaque, we are also remembering to be aware of the signs of suicidal behaviour and the need to take it seriously,” Dr Melville-Smith said.

“I hope the legacy of this is that we can prevent it from happening again.”

Whyalla Suicide Prevention Network (WSPN) member Janice Eygenraam also spoke at the memorial, focusing on strategies to help prevent suicide.

“We are all trying to make a difference. Here today at Toby’s memorial is one way of raising the awareness and removing the stigma that surrounds suicide and mental health,” she said.

“Another local approach is the WSPN which has been together for about 6 years, we have a committee that meets every month. We are not counsellors or a support group.”

Other local groups that provide support in the area of suicide prevention are men’s mental health group I’m Not Afraid To Talk and the Whyalla Ripples Support Group.

Training sessions available related to suicide prevention include: Question Persuade Refer (QPR), Mean Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and SafeTalk.

More information regarding these strategies can be found online.

If you or someone you know needs urgent support, please ring Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

Original Story appeared here

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