READ: Communities Matter Toolkit launch – Speech Transcript – Sue Murray
Developed through a partnership between the Mental Health Commission of NSW and Suicide Prevention Australia, and based on extensive consultation across the state, the resource helps community groups to apply evidence-informed strategies to prevent suicide and combat stigma.
“Suicide is a whole of community issue. It’s more than just a mental health concern. We need to utilise local community partnerships across social supports in order to lower suicide rates,” Minister Goward said.
Suicide is mostly preventable yet is the leading cause of death for both Australian males and females aged 15-44 years. Although NSW has lower suicide rates than the other states and territories, 694 people died by suicide in NSW in 2013. Suicide rates are higher in rural and regional areas, which typically have lower access to formal mental health care.
John Harper, a former shearer turned mental health advocate from Temora in the Riverina, said the Communities Matter toolkit would help kick-start suicide prevention activities in small towns.
“I’m involved because I’m convinced that for people to have a better life, support from within the community is essential,” Mr Harper said.
“I work with a lot of small town groups that have no face-to-face mental health support and something like this is just what they need to connect and get them started.”
Sue Murray, CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia said, “The National Coalition for Suicide Prevention has an ambitious agenda of halving suicide in ten years. Community driven suicide prevention is critical to achieving this goal.”
NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley, said suicide prevention is everybody’s business.
“NSW communities are crying out for information and tools to drive local suicide prevention efforts,” Mr Feneley said.
“Building resilience and promoting wellbeing are among the cornerstones of the mental health reform agenda in NSW and the Communities Matter toolkit is another means of helping these towns and communities to achieve this.”