Garry King has extensive experience in working with young people encountering the issues of self-harm and suicidal behaviour. This experience is the result of having worked as a teacher, youth worker and counsellor and is complemented by degrees in welfare and education as well as masters degrees in counselling and suicidology.
From this experience, Garry saw a need to develop a workshop for those people working face-to-face with young people. His course has helped youth workers, residential care staff, teachers, chaplains, school counsellors, psychologists, counsellors and tertiary students training in these areas.
Agenda 2001 Training and Consultancy is Garry’s organisation and while he works for himself he still has a strong affiliation with the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.
The vision of this small organisation is to promote knowledge and understanding around issues of youth self-harm, youth suicide and building resilience.
During Garry’s early career working with young people he soon realised that there was very little meaningful training available to support youth workers and the critical role they play with vulnerable youth.
Over time he saw the increasing societal and peer expectations (among others) youth were having to face and he determined that there is not one simple reason for self-harm or suicide. As a result he developed multi-faceted workshops that look at
- understanding the differences and links between self-harm/injury and suicidal behaviour
- identifying those most at risk of self-harm/injury
- risk factors for self-harm/injury behaviour
- protective factors for self-harm/injury behaviour
- strategies to address self-harming/injuring behaviour in the short and long term
- a range of strategies to assist in prevention of self-harm
- a clear understanding of resilience
- what are the benefits of increasing resilience
- what are the key components of resilience
- identifying ways of operating that may lessen resilience
- how to build a Resilience Program practical and easy to implement strategies.
What motivates Garry each day is his belief that knowledge is power and that we can all make a difference.
And make a difference he does. After one workshop, a woman walked up to him and told him that his workshop was spot on. She went on to say that she knew this because she used to be exactly like the young person he had described.
When asked what is one thing he would change to make the lives of his clients better, Garry said he would like to see less stigmatisation of mental health. And while he acknowledges that improvements are being made we still have a way to go.
Garry has done his workshops more than 100 times in the last four years which shows the demand for the work he does. However, with statistics showing 20 per cent to 30 per cent of young people self-injure at some stage, there is still a need for more services with staff trained in these issues to support our young people.
The best part of Garry’s job he says is when people who attend the training report back that the strategies they learned work. More recently Garry has written a book entitled What Every Parent Needs to Know About Children and Self Injury. Already he is getting repeat orders from schools as parents and teachers alike are finding the content pungent and the strategies empowering.
Currently Garry is researching self-injury in collaboration with the University of West Georgia USA and is presently writing a book on school crisis management and prevention with Dr MM Kerr, Professor and Chair of Educational Psychology, Pittsburgh University.
Earlier this year he and Dr Kerr published a chapter about evidence-based youth suicide prevention for the 2017 School Social Work (USA).
QCOSS thanks Garry King for his time talking with us and for the valuable work he does. Readers who would like to learn more about the workshops can visit Garry’s website agenda2001consulting.com for more detail.