Aftercare services following an attempted suicide will be the focus of $90 million initiative to support suicide prevention, the New South Wales Premier has announced.
People who have been admitted to hospital following an attempt will, from next year, have access to aftercare services, emergency department alternatives and increased capacity to mental health programs — particularly in rural areas, where the rate of suicides is higher.
“The tragic loss of life from suicide leaves families and communities devastated and we shouldn’t accept the current rates,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“Two to three people lose their life to suicide in NSW each day, and this has to stop.
“Today’s announcement provides vital funding and better coordination between the various support providers and agencies to ensure no-one slips through the cracks.”
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The number of deaths from suicide in NSW climbed to 880 in 2017, an increase of 75 deaths in one year and the highest number in the state since 2008, according to the Mental Health Commission of NSW.
The package will also go to funding a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy and will aim to eliminate suicide attempts by people in care. Included in this are alternatives to people in crisis, such as designated “cafes” with trained mental health workers providing support.
Because suicide disproportionately impacts the LGBT community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the funding will also try to engage in resilience building in these communities.
Suicide support services need to be linked: Minister
Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies said community support groups have a profound impact on reducing suicide rates.
“Evidence shows integrated, community-led activities are more effective in suicide prevention than standalone, isolated activities that are not well linked,” Ms Davies said.
“This is about providing our communities with the most effective tools so they have the strength, resilience and capacity to prevent and respond to suicide.”
Bereavement services for affected families and friends, to prevent “clusters” of further suicides, will also be added to the list of new support services.
A Mayo Clinic study in the United States, published earlier this month, found about 41 per cent of young people — predominantly males — had no prior psychiatric history prior to their first suicide attempt.
The findings suggests that for significant number of young people suffering from depression and anxiety, their first experience with the mental health care system was only as they tried to take their own life.