S1 E1 with Senior Firefighter Tara J Lal

Tara reveals her poignant personal story and explains why she is passionate about protecting the mental health of others.

In our first Mindarma podcast, Dean Yates talks to Senior Firefighter, author and PhD Scholar Tara J Lal.

Tara is a full-time firefighter in Sydney. She helps run the psychological wellbeing program for Fire & Rescue NSW. She is trained in suicide prevention and mental health first aid.

Tara is extremely passionate about mental health. She is now half-way through a PhD, in which she is researching how firefighters cope with the tragic suicides they encounter on the job. When someone suicides, Fire and Rescue usually get called. Tara wants to understand how firefighters make sense of it all.

Tara’s family history has shaped who she is today. Born in London, some of Tara’s earliest memories are of the crippling mental illness her father has suffered all his life. When she was eight, Tara’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and died five years later. At the time, Tara turned to her sensitive fifteen-year-old brother Adam for support. Adam was grieving silently, pouring his thoughts into a series of diaries. Four years after their mother died, in his first semester at Oxford University, Adam took his own life.

Tara coped by keeping busy. By travelling. By never stopping. But her family trauma caught up with her. Tara spent many years trying to understand this trauma. Building her resilience. Finding meaning in life. That culminated in 2015 with the publication of her powerful memoir: Standing on my Brother’s Shoulders: Making Peace with Grief and Suicide. In this podcast Tara shares her valuable insights on building personal resilience in the face of adversity and trauma.