Local groups working to tackle Great South Coast suicide rate

Media Release

Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) has launched the Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Place Based Trial, an initiative aimed at delivering activities to reduce the suicide rate in the Great South Coast.

WVPHN is coordinating the trial in partnership with the Federal Government and a range of health care service providers. Leading the development of the Trial activities has been a local Leadership Group made up of health sector organisations and community leaders.

In accordance with the Victorian Suicide Prevention Framework 2016-25, the trial offers a coordinated approach to reducing the suicide rate in the Great South Coast by aiming to:

  • Reduce the rates of suicide
  • Reduce suicide attempts
  • Improve individual resilience and wellbeing
  • Improve systems to prevent suicide in an ongoing way.

WVPHN Chief Executive Officer Rowena Clift said: “Many families across Great South Coast are struggling to understand why their loved ones have taken their own lives. From teenagers to adults and both male and female; the suicide rate for Great South Coast is 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. These activities will help us achieve this by filling identified service gaps and giving the community the support it requires.”

The Hon Dan Tehan, Minister for Education and Member for Wannon, said he welcomed the launch of the Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Place-Based Trial, and that the investment will engage experienced and respected local organisation’s to trial activities to reduce the rates of suicide and suicide attempts.

Cr Anita Rank, Chair of Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Place Based Trail Leadership Group and Mayor of Glenelg Shire Council said: “I’m honoured to be a part of this trial, led by a group with high level skills and expertise in the area, and who are willing to share their knowledge and resources for such an important program. For these activities to now be announced and come to fruition as a result of such a collaborative partnership for the wellbeing of the Great South Coast community is great to see and great for our communities.”

Todd Morgan, Victoria Program Coordinator of Outside the Locker Room said: “As part of this trial, Outside the Locker Room will be offering our mental health support program to 12 organisations in the Local Government Areas of 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. 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. And if they’re seeking support from our welfare team, then we’re making it easier for them to get a foot in the door of the mental healthcare system and be walking in the right direction. We support any effort to reduce the rate of suicide, but this particular trial is significant for its place-based and community-centred approach. Mental health conditions and suicide don’t 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.”

Dr Alison Kennedy, Research Fellow at National Centre for Farmer Health said: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with community and service providers from across the Great South Coast to develop suicide prevention measures that are tailored to the needs of our farming communities and work to fill the gaps in mental health support that currently exist in rural areas.”

The Trial involves the development and delivery of a series of complementary activities by local health organisations and community groups that will help those suffering from suicidal thoughts and their families and friends. For more information, go to the Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Place Based Trial web page.

If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency or use any of the crisis helplines:

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14 | www.lifeline.org.au
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467 | www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 | www.kidshelpline.com.au
  • MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978 | www.mensline.org.au
  • South West Health Care Primary Mental Health Team Warrnambool – 5564 6000 | After hours: 1800 808 284