Switchboard Victoria is a national leading organisation providing peer-led suicide prevention programs, peer support services and initiatives to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people across Australia. We are striving to create an interconnected suicide prevention system to meaningfully address suicide in LGBTIQA+ communities through: service provision, awareness raising, designing and delivering training, advocacy, consultancy, crisis intervention, research and lived experience engagement.
Although data is limited on suicide statistics among LGBTIQA+ people in Australia, it is known that LGBTIQA+ people experience markedly higher rates of suicide distress and attempts than the general population. In the Australian national LGBTIQA+ population-based survey, Private Lives 3: The health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people in Australia, it was reported that:
- Over 1 in 3 (41.9%) of participants reported that they had considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months, almost twenty times higher than the general Australian population.
- Almost three quarters (74.8%) reported having ever considered attempting suicide at some point during their lives, more than five times higher than reported among the general Australian population.
- One in twenty (5.2%) participants reported attempting suicide in the past 12 months and one third (30.3%) reported having attempted suicide at some point during their lives.
With a strong emphasis on building community resilience through peer-led and lived experience activities, we have made it our core work to respond to the challenges of suicide among LGBTIQA+ communities. We do this by strategically focusing our work across all areas of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. Our work in these areas include:
- Working alongside partner organisations to undertake research into LGBTIQA+ experiences of suicide and those affected by suicide.
- Engaging community members with lived experience of suicide and suicide loss to work together in developing suicide prevention initiatives.
- Leading workshops and webinars to communities, organisations and individuals in suicide safety and how LGBTIQA+ communities can be further supported.
- Advocating for the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ communities to be represented in national suicide prevention initiatives.
- Designing and delivering LGBTIQA+ specific models of suicide awareness (safeTALK) and intervention skills (ASIST) trainings developed by LivingWorks.
- Supporting Switchboard Victoria’s statewide helpline, Rainbow Door, on responding to suicide crises and intervention.
- Developing LGBTIQA+ Support After Suicide, an 8-week suicide bereavement support group in partnership with Support After Suicide at Jesuit Social Services. These groups are free and provide LGBTIQA+ community members with a warm and affirming space to be able to explore their grief following a loss through suicide.
- Publishing an LGBTIQA+ Suicide Postvention Response Plan which provides general guidelines to LGBTIQA+ communities and peer organisations involved in providing postvention.
- Consulting communities following an LGBTIQA+ suicide death to support them through postvention activities.