Tackling the south-west's high suicide rate

Emily Lee-Ack
Emily Lee-Ack

The south-west’s high suicide rate is soon to be tackled with the help of a new prevention training pilot program.

The Lifeline program aims to help people throughout local communities know what to do if someone is at risk of suicide.

The south-west’s suicide rate is higher than the state and national average, which prompted the Great South Coast (GSC) Regional Partnership, which covers the Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Glenelg local government areas, to place suicide prevention among its top priorities last year.

Those priorities were determined at discussions that included last year’s GSC Regional Assembly at Portland and led the state government to allocate $80,000 for the suicide prevention training pilot program.

GSC Regional Partnership Chair Emily Lee-Ack said Lifeline’s vision for the south-west was “to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in suicides by 2023 and this is something the partnership is strongly supportive of”.

The program, called Fight for your Life, will be delivered over three years to representatives from more than 250 local businesses and sporting and community groups. It has been tailored specifically to the GSC region.

The training will improve individual and community strength and capacity to prevent suicide through three simple messages, recognise, respond and refer.

The project will give participants the knowledge and skills required to know how to recognise words and behaviours that suggest someone is in distress, as well as the knowledge of how to respond and where to go for professional support.

It will also ask businesses to consider making Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) as important as first aid training within workplaces.

Lifeline South-West’s Carly Dennis said that “for every death by suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their lives”. 

“Our community has identified that they want to help those at risk of suicide but are not sure what they can do. You don’t have to have professional qualifications to help. As a family member, friend or colleague, you are most likely to identify that something is not right,” Ms Dennis said.

  • If you or someone you know needs help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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