LOCAL groups across the Great South Coast are working together to reduce suicide rates as part of a new mental health initiative.
On Friday, Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) launched the Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Place Based Trial, an initiative aimed at delivering activities to reduce suicides and improve individual resilience and wellbeing.
The trial is run in partnership with the Federal Government and a range of local health care providers and leadership groups.
WVPHN chief executive, Rowena Clift said from teenagers to adults, the suicide rate for Great South Coast was unacceptably high.
“We want to ensure that every single person who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide or has attempted suicide has support networks available to help them when and where they need it,” she said.
“These activities will help us achieve this by filling identified service gaps and giving the community the support it requires.”
The initiative is one of only 12 trials across Victoria to be supported by the State and Federal Governments.
Wannon MP, Dan Tehan welcomed the launch of the initiative.
“Local health care providers and local leadership will help individuals and families get the support they need,” he said.
“As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing drought and the repercussions of the recent bushfires, many people are feeling the burden - but they are not alone.
“To prevent suicide and reduce the numbers of tragic and untimely deaths, it’s important to make sure all Australians including those who live in rural, regional and remote regions have access to high quality advice and support.”
The Federal Government has contributed $600,000 and will collaborate with the State Government and WVPHN for the trial.
Mr Tehan said the trial would also support activities to improve individual resilience and wellbeing and improve systems to prevent suicide.
The trial will involve the work of community leadership groups including Live4Life, National Centre for Farmer Health, Headspace, Glenelg Shire, Western District Health Service, Outside the Locker Room and many more.
Outside the Locker Room, Victoria program coordinator, Todd Morgan said as part of the trial, it will be offering mental health support programs to 12 organisations across the Great South Coast.
“Participants will attend a mental health education session and receive 12 months of dedicated support from our welfare team, all at no cost,” he said.
“There still exists huge stigma around mental health conditions and suicide, particularly in regional communities.
“Our aim is that by raising awareness of mental health challenges and promoting frank conversations about how to help one another, members of the community will seek support sooner.”
Mr Morgan said mental health conditions and suicide did not occur in a vacuum, so it’s not effective to use a “one size fits all” approach.
“To be able to support community groups from a large area such as the Great South Coast, with its many communities and cultures, this trial is fantastic, and it is fantastic to be a part of it,” he said.
“We support any effort to reduce the rate of suicide, but this particular trial is significant for its place-based and community-centred approach.”
The trial will involve the development and delivery of a series of complementary activities by local health organisations and community groups to help people suffering from suicidal thoughts.
If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency department or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au.