In Australia, from 2011 to 2015, an average of 2, 687 people died from suicide each year, which is nearly 8 people per day. The suicide rate amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is more than double the national rate.
In November 2015, the Commonwealth government established a National Suicide Prevention Strategy. Primary Health Networks (PHNs) were tasked with commissioning regionally targeted suicide prevention services.
In response to this strategy, Neami has responded to several requests for tender for suicide prevention services. To date, we have been awarded two contracts, and are waiting to hear on the outcome of another two recent submissions. Neami has launched two new initiatives in this area.
The Western Australian Mental Health Commission has contracted our organisation to provide a Suicide Prevention Coordinator in each of the three Perth metropolitan areas. The role of the Suicide Prevention Coordinators is to:
- support local communities and services to appropriately respond to those at risk of suicide,
- promote a better understand of mental health and wellbeing,
- aim to reduce stigma,
- improve postvention responses and
- work with key stakeholders to develop and deliver education around suicide prevention.
Our WA suicide prevention team bring substantial experience in this area and are currently investigating how to best measure and evaluate the outcomes for consumers.
The second service, funded through the Western New South Wales PHN, will allow Neami to operate a Suicide Prevention service in Dubbo, Orange and Broken Hill. Regional and remote services will target those working in rural industries. The model in Western NSW has several components;
- a "Green Card Clinic", offering individual follow up support and brief interventions. (This name arose out of a hospital in Sydney who would give patients little green cards as appointment reminders after presenting to emergency with suicidal ideation or self-harm.)
- training for people who engage with the service to raise their awareness about suicide and enable them to assist others at risk.
- an adjusted Optimal Health Program and Mental Health First Aid training to enable trainees efficacy in engaging with others at risk.
- training for other organisations, allowing them to better respond to suicide risk.
Neami is now a member of Suicide Prevention Australia, a leading peak body for suicide prevention in Australia. Furthering our organisational capacity in this area, representatives from each state will attend the National Suicide Prevention Conference in July this year. This national conference is an opportunity to network with organisations working in suicide prevention, and to learn more about successful suicide prevention initiatives.
In the meantime, Neami is developing our approach to suicide prevention through exploring best practise models and contemporary thinking in this important area of work.