THE tragic deaths of four teenagers has devastated the tightly knit Cabarita community and has inspired a local couple to launch an event to raise funds to prevent youth suicide.
Tina Rochford and Dan Smith knew the parents of the boys, who all attended Kingscliff High School, and took their lives at different times since 2012. The most recent death was just six months ago.
Ms Rochford and Mr Smith saw the torment and shame endured by the loved ones and friends left behind and feared more such tragedies.
They researched youth suicide, and found early, professional intervention was the key, as well as extinguishing the stigma surrounding seeking counselling during a depressive episode.
They also discovered statistics which shocked them. In the last year on record 348 young people, and 2520 people in total, took their own lives.
"In the 10-24 year age brackets, 85% of them are boys, and it's the third leading cause of death," Ms Rochford said.
"One of the things that really got me going was somebody told me a 10-year-old boy was having suicidal thoughts. And I just snapped," Mr Smith said.
"That's when I thought - somebody has to do something. And that's when I put pen to paper."
The couple have organised Cabarita Beach Retro Youth Suicide Prevention Surfing Tournament to be held on September 12 at the Cabarita Beach headland will raise money for Headspace.
The government program aims to engage youth in schools, TAFEs and at home, to prevent isolation, depression, drug abuse and suicide.
Presented by Mr Smith's surfboard shaping company DS Boards, the single-fin comp will be open in August to 100 competitors, and costs $60 per entry.
The tournament will be the centrepiece for a festival of stalls, music, giveaways and a clear message to local teens.
"This has to stop," Ms Rochford said. "We need to break the barrier of the stigma so the boys know they can ask for help."
For more information, contact DS Shapes on 0475408198.
If this story has upset you or you are in need of crisis support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.
CORRECTION: The initial story stated 4,600 deaths by suicide and has been corrected.
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