This story discusses suicide. If this causes issues for you, you can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Paul Gorman is giving back by representing tenants on the Home in Place Tenant Reference Group (TRG) and using his lived experience to support better mental health in the community. He credits the information he received at a tenant seminar with helping him to help save someone’s life.
A Muswellbrook tenant for 4 years, Paul has also been a TRG member since 2018. He gathers feedback from other tenants and shares that information and ideas with Home in Place. He also assists in delivering tenant activities and events.
“I joined the TRG to improve my communication and also assist with communication of other members,” Paul said.
“When it comes to communication, I do believe in a two-way street.”
After serving 17 months in the Vietnam War, Paul worked on the railways for 41 years. Now retired, Paul enjoys a game of golf, meeting weekly with the local Veterans club. He is also giving back to the sport. He was the manager of the Upper Hunter Golf Club and is now president of the Upper Hunter Golf Association.
Paul has been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for quite a while, due to fatalities he witnessed on the railway. He said many railway workers suffer PTSD because of their work experiences. Some describe their feelings as ‘survivors’ guilt’.
”I’m recovering, but you never fully recover from PTSD.”
“I will tell you one thing that did help. I went to a suicide awareness program workshop setup by Home in Place down at the community centre.”
“It was quite enlightening. I can’t heap praise on it enough, it was extraordinary what I learnt in that one day. It provided a different perspective on it [suicide], it was just fantastic.”
“Some things stuck in my mind, and not so long ago I had a fella phone up, another train driver, who was going to take his own life. I spoke with him for an hour, talking him out of it using the tools I learnt in the workshop. I keep in contact with him every week to make sure he is okay.”
Paul continues to advocate for mental health awareness within his community, utilising the skills he developed at the seminar. And he is always looking to take tenant ideas and feedback to the TRG meetings too.
The suicide awareness training mentioned in this article was made possible by NSW Health’s Suicide Prevention fund which Home in Place utilised to run a Suicide Prevention Program from 2018-2022.