The COAG Health Council has announced the development of Australia’s first National Suicide Prevention Plan.
Peak body Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) and Lifeline Australia have welcomed the COAG Health Council decision, saying it will help ensure Federal, State and Territory Governments take a coordinated approach to tackling the national suicide emergency.
SPA CEO Sue Murray said the peak suicide prevention body believes the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan will help recognise suicide as a significant public health issue and ensure a proportionate response.
“The development of this plan – through genuine co-design with those personally impacted by suicide and those working in suicide prevention – is about providing a strong blueprint for stopping this heartbreaking issue,” Ms Murray said.
“We know that a national suicide prevention plan, with clear outcomes and milestones, has the best potential to save lives. To do so, it needs continued national leadership, a focus on quality through evaluation and accountability, as well as proper investment that stays true to the current focus on regional delivery and person-centred care.”
The COAG announcement comes just days after Lifeline-commissioned research showed that more than 80 per cent of Australians support the development of a National Suicide Prevention Plan.
Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel said the decision to upgrade the 5th National Mental Health Plan to a National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan sends a message to the community that our government leaders have heard their calls for greater action.
“Lifeline receives almost a million requests for help each year and, as a result, we know better than most the immense pain and heartache that suicide is causing to individuals, families and whole communities across the country,” Mr Shmigel said.
“We also know that struggles with life’s challenges, such as loneliness, relationship breakdown and unemployment – not only mental health issues – are key reasons behind suicidal behaviour and require their own responses.
“With the number of suicide deaths rising to 10-year-plus high levels, it’s clear we need new thinking and solutions based on good old-fashioned compassion. Mostly, we need a clear and defined way forward, and this is what a national plan can achieve. Federal Health Minister the Hon. Greg Hunt MP must be commended for elevating the issues of suicide in just his third month in office.”
For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp
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