Twelve months on from the launch of the Black Dog Institute’s LifeSpan project in the region, key players and community members will come together to celebrate its achievements.
The celebration event will be held at the Kiama Pavilion from 8.30am to 10.30am next Thursday, to coincide with national R U OK? Day.
It’s an important milestone for LifeSpan, which is led in this region by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative.
“We encourage anyone from the community to come along as it’ll give them a really great sense of all that is happening in suicide prevention as well as some ideas on how they can get involved,” Dr Alex Hains, regional manager of the Collaborative, said.
Suicide rates in the region remain higher than the state average, with around 40 to 60 suicide deaths each year over the past decade.
The Collaborative was formed in 2015 to reduce suicide deaths and attempts, and it brings together around 40 organisations from various sectors.
The region then became one of four trial sites in NSW for LifeSpan, the nation’s largest integrated suicide prevention program.
Achievements include the introduction of a new service to support people who present to emergency departments after a suicide attempt, and help them to connect with community-based supports.
The Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) program has also been rolled out to over 3700 Year 9 students across 26 public, Catholic and independent schools.
Meantime StepCare screening is gradually being introduced into general practices, which involves everyone who attends a GP appointment being screened for depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidality.
“This is a really important strategy that will help identify those people who are struggling, but perhaps not opening up about it. Connecting them to care is really important,” Dr Hains said.
“We will continue to work with the Black Dog Institute and other organisations to improve the supports available to people across our region, and work to ensure these supports are effective.
“Suicide continues to have a really devastating impact on our communities. And so the Collaborative remains committed to involving the whole community to address this issue.”
If you’d like to talk to anyone about the issues raised in this article call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.