Local mental health groups to tackle Ballarat suicide rate

Media Release

Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) has launched the Ballarat Suicide Prevention Place Based Trial, an initiative aimed at delivering activities to reduce the rate of death by suicide in Ballarat.

WVPHN is coordinating the trial in partnership with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and a range of health care service providers.

In accordance with the Victorian Suicide Prevention Framework 2016-25, the place based trial offers a coordinated approach to reducing the suicide rate in Ballarat 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 Ballarat 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 Ballarat is unacceptably high. We want to ensure that every single person who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide or has lived experience 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.”

Participating organisations, individuals and guests at the online launch of the Ballarat Suicide Prevention Place Based Trial activities on 21 August, 2020

Sean Duffy, Chair of the Ballarat Leadership Group and CEO of Ballarat Community Health said: “Without question, Ballarat has a dark and sad history which has to be of the upmost concern to the people of Ballarat. This is a mental health crisis that requires a systematic and a humanistic approach to see change occur. The suite of trial activities commissioned provides the opportunity for innovation, engagement of the community and builds in areas that have previously not been explored through traditional service streams of support. The trial activity has also provided an opportunity for clinicians, community members and those with a lived experience to come together, consider data, stories of those whose lives have been deeply affected and, from this base, design projects to implement in the community. We hope at the end of this trial that we as a community of leaders can reflect, learn and advocate for ongoing investment and change.”

Jake Edwards, CEO and Founder of Outside the Locker Room said: “As part of this trial, Outside the Locker Room will be offering our mental health support program to 30 organisations in Ballarat. Participants will attend a mental health education session and receive 12 months of dedicated support from our welfare team, all at no cost. Our first education session is set for August 26th with Ballarat City FC. 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. So, the fact that this project asks, “What is going on for people in Ballarat?” and “How can the Ballarat community support one another?” is fantastic and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

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 or who have lived experience of suicide or bereavement. Each activity will be monitored and evaluated against a shared outcomes framework.

For more details on the activities and the participating groups and organisations, visit the Ballarat 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
  • Ballarat Mental Health Services – 03 5320 4100 or after hours on 1300 247 647