Central West Lifeline chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson has welcomed a $90 million package from the NSW Government to prevent suicides in the state.
The funding, which is part of the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023, will also aid people who have been admitted to hospital following an attempted suicide.
“Those who have reached out for help will have access to follow up care and support under a new comprehensive strategy that marks the beginning of our journey towards zero suicides,” the NSW Government said.
Ms Robinson said the funding was significant.
“It is a good beginning. Suicide rates are way too high and it is a national emergency,” she said.
According to NSW Government data, 880 people committed suicide in the state last year – more than double the state’s road accident deaths.
The suicide rate was highest among the 15 to 45 years age group.
Ms Robinson said suicide was more prevalent in regional areas.
“We lose far too many people to suicide in our regional and rural areas. The ABS [Australian Bureau of Statistics] data suggests that the biggest [suicide] rate increase was in urban-regional areas like Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo. That’s the concern for us and we would be working very hard to reduce it,” she said.
Ms Robinson said Central West Lifeline will be approaching the public health networks for funding.
She said the organisation is focusing on recruiting, training and retaining volunteers and crisis supporters.
“We are also doing a lot of work on digital transformation services. Our goal is to train an army of gatekeepers so that signs of suicide are not dismissed or avoided,” she said.
The suicide prevention funding includes:
- $4.25 million into the "Zero Suicides in Care" program, which will aim to reduce suicide attempts by people in care
- $3 million for aftercare services to improve follow-up care for people after a suicide attempt
- $10 million for alternatives to the emergency department, to create new and immediate support for people with suicidal thoughts
- $650,000 for data collection on suicide data in NSW
- $3.25 million for resilience building in communities, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- $1.8 million for new bereavement services to prevent "clusters" of suicides
- $2.25 million for a Rural Adversity Mental Health program
- $8.5 million for a new outreach team to increase intensive, complex care for people with severe mental illness
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