Suicide Prevention Australia has welcomed the announcement by Health Minister Greg Hunt to invest $64 million in funding for five key suicide prevention measures. The investment will include funding to support people who have made a suicide attempt and the relatives of people who have taken their own lives.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray said, “We’ve been calling for major reform for some time as suicide is more than a health issue.
“We know the people at greatest risk of suicide in future are those who’ve made an attempt. People who have survived a suicide attempt are often given inadequate follow up, simply because our public health system is under pressure.
A person surviving a suicide attempt is at heightened risk of a future attempt, particularly in the first six months after the attempt was made.1 Despite this, the follow-up or ‘aftercare’ provided to people who are known to have attempted suicide is patchy at best. Our emergency departments and other acute care settings are overstretched, with demand for services often exceeding the resources available.
“Connected, community-based suicide prevention interventions where agencies work together are a critical way of ensuring people who’ve survived a suicide attempt have the intensive, compassionate support they need.
“We’ve seen this in the case of Scotland, where the Distress Brief Intervention Program has helped thousands of people in crisis to not only survive, but thrive into the future.We welcome Minister Hunt’s decision to inject significant funding into community based mentoring and support programs.
“Suicide prevention is complex. Global evidence shows that a fragmented and mental illness-specific approach doesn’t work. As highlighted in our National Policy Platform, we need a holistic approach involving the whole of Government – and the entire Australian community – if we’re to drive down the suicide rate.
“We are heartened to see the government looking at ways to address suicide through a broader lens, as it’s not just a mental health issue. What we also need is initiatives to equip industries outside the traditional health and human service sectors who might also be key touchpoints for people at risk of suicide.
“An immediate priority for the suicide prevention sector is to investigate and understand how to best support vulnerable people before reaching crisis point. To achieve a long term, significant decline in the suicide rates, like we’ve seen in the Republic of Ireland, we need a system to support a whole of Government approach to suicide prevention. This will ensure every agency addresses suicide risk in a coordinated way so that fewer people reach crisis point,” said Ms Murray.
The $64 million package will focus on supporting some of the most vulnerable groups, including:
- Australians who have been discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt.
- Families and carers who have lost a loved one to suicide.
- Young Australians, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and in regional and rural areas.
- Australians in crisis, and in need of immediate assistance.
More information on the announcement can be found in Minister Hunt’s media release here.
Clare Kinsella: 0427 689 689
Michaela Weston: 0403 483 023