New approach to suicide prevention to be implemented

The Murrumbidgee region has been selected to take part in Australia’s largest integrated suicide prevention program expected to reduce suicide deaths by 20% and suicide attempts by 30%.

This is a great opportunity given that suicide rates within the Murrumbidgee remain higher than NSW averages.

A new approach to suicide prevention, developed by researchers at Black Dog Institute and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP), will be rolled out in four locations across NSW, including the Murrumbidgee region.

Called Lifespan, this evidence-based ‘systems approach’ involves the simultaneous implementation of nine strategies proven to reduce suicide. It was developed in partnership with researchers, clinicians, community organisations, Indigenous health groups and people with lived experience of suicide and mental illness.

Prof Helen Christensen, Director of the Black Dog Institute and CRESP, said this solution should significantly reduce suicide deaths and suicide attempts, as well as improving the lives of those living with suicidal thoughts and mental illness.

“The nine key strategies include improved access to mental health care, quality education programs for people at the front line (emergency staff, teachers, GPs), minimising access to lethal means and encouraging safe conversations about suicide in schools, workplaces and communities,” said Prof Christensen.

“The key to this program, and what makes it different to anything tried before, is the intensity of the interventions – this is the first time we are implementing specially tailored and evidence-based strategies at the same time within local communities.

“Importantly, we have incorporated the knowledge of people who have experience of suicidal thoughts in themselves or a loved one,” she added.

LifeSpan Murrumbidgee will be implemented in the Murrumbidgee region from April, a major initiative by Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN).

 

LifeSpan is being implemented in partnership with the NSW Department of Health, Commonwealth Primary Health Networks, NSW Mental Health Commission, NSW Department of Education and local community organisations. Lifespan has been supported by a generous $14.7 million grant from the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

More information about LifeSpan, including details of the nine strategies and the four trial locations, can be found at www.lifespan.org.au.

If you are feeling distressed and in need of immediate assistance, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300659 467.

Cristy Houghton