Police and mental health providers in Karratha to tackle increase in suicides
Karratha has faced an unprecedented number of suicides in the past month. (ABC North West: Rebecca Parish)
Emergency talks have been called in the north of Western Australia this week after six suicides in the Pilbara region in four weeks.
Pilbara police and mental health operators gathered in Karratha on Monday in a bid to form a ‘critical notifications’ strategy to deal with the tragedies.
Four men and one woman took their own lives in Karratha city alone over the Christmas period, with a 12-year-old girl found dead in South Hedland on Sunday.
Community members took to social media numerous times in December pleading for the deaths to stop.
Pilbara police officer-in-charge Superintendent Paul Coombes said the deaths were “highly sensitive and traumatic for the families involved as well as the wider community”.
He said his officers were also being monitored for their own wellbeing.
“We are working in partnership with relevant agencies and key stakeholders in assisting and supporting the families and communities affected by these tragic events,” Supt Coombes said.
“There are a whole lot of people with good intentions so it will be a good, multi-agency approach.”
A main aim of the strategy is to ensure community members know who to call when they are concerned about someone’s welfare.
Services committed to help
CEO of the Western Australian Council of Social Service, Louise Giolitto, who took part in the meeting via phone link from Perth, said there was commitment from all parties involved.
“Everybody wanted to jump on board and assist because we understand there’s a number of community members in the Karratha region at the moment who are in pain,” Ms Giolitto said.
“There’s an absolute commitment from everyone present across the community service sector, and government agencies, to help and support people in need in Karratha as an absolute priority.”
While prevention was a heavy focus throughout the discussions, talks also centred around “after care”.
“I know a lot of the suicide prevention ads are about reaching out,” Supt Coombes said.
“If you have doubts or concerns, reach out.
“It’s preventative and educational, it is about reducing the number of suicides in the community, but also being able to provide people and victims with support afterward.”
Ms Giolitto said Mission Australia would be taking the lead on future meetings, with headspace and Yaandina also providing support.
“There’s a range of actions that have come out from the meetings, which will see local agencies working together to make sure the community as much as possible feels safe and supported,” she said.
Police and mental health providers will host another round-table meeting in Karratha next week, and are aiming to finalise a formal strategy as soon as possible.
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