The community is being invited to a special event to coincide with RUOK? Day on September 12 to hear about the work being done in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven on suicide prevention.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative will host a special event at the Kiama Pavilion on Thursday, September 12, from 8.30am.
The event will outline the Collabrative's milestones which include an estimated 200,000 residents have been reached by the collaborative's community awareness campaigns and nearly 8000 students who have undertaken a mental health program.
Further more than 2000 residents have been trained to recognise and respond to suicidality through online training, during the Care to QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer campaign run in conjunction with the Illawarra Mercury. Hundreds of health professionals have had access to advanced training around suicidality, and almost 250 people have completed mental health screening as part of a program in general practice.
The celebration event will also see the release of the Collaborative's first report card and reveal the release of a mini documentary. It will also outline what lies ahead for the future in the region in terms of suicide prevention initiatives.
Formed in 2015, the region's suicide prevention collaborative was made up of 40 local organisations and community groups, all working together to reduce suicides. RUOK? Day is Australia's national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone to ask, "Are you OK?" and to remember every day of the year to support people who may be struggling.
The event is open to the public but attendees are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 8.
Campaign a strong model
A nationally-recognised Illawarra suicide prevention campaign should be a beacon of light for other communities around the country, a key driver of the campaign has said.
The Illawarra Mercury's Care to QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer campaign was recognised with the national media award at the 2019 LiFE Awards in Melbourne on Tuesday night.
The awards, organised by Suicide Prevention Australia, recognise outstanding contribution to suicide prevention in Australia.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative was a key partner in the campaign which told people's stories of their experience with suicide but also encouraged the community to undertake an online QPR course to be beacons of hope in the community.
Collaborative regional manager Alex Hains said the award recognised the significance of the campaign.
"This is fantastic recognition for the Mercury's campaign last year, which was the most significant public campaign for suicide prevention ever undertaken in our region," Mr Hains said.
"The award provides not just recognition for all those who participated in or contributed to the campaign, but it also highlights this campaign as a model for other regions to follow.
"The Collaborative worked closely with the Mercury to enable people to share their personal experiences with suicide and recovery.
"These stories were incredibly powerful in promoting hope. And the award further reinforces the value of these people sharing their stories."
The national media award was sponsored by Mindframe, a government organisation which encourages the safe and responsible reporting of sensitive issues such as suicide and mental health.
Mr Hains said another key feature of the campaign "was the determination to do more than just raise awareness".
"There was an emphasis on translating that awareness into action," he said.
"The campaign encouraged community members and workplaces to do Question Persuade Refer online training, which costs just $10 and takes less than an hour.
"Over 3,500 community members took up this training. Many of these people have already told us that they've used the skills they learnt in this training to support people who are struggling.
"The more people who do this training, the less suicides we are likely to have in our communities."
For support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511