Here are practical, real life examples of positive community action by existing suicide prevention groups.
Hay is a town of about 3,000 people in the Western Riverina Region of NSW. It is more than 100km to the nearest larger centre. The Community Action for Suicide Elimination (CASE) group was formed in 2011 because of the large number of suicides in Hay.
It came together as a result of a public meeting that was called to see what could be done about the continuing suicides. The meeting was well attended thanks to the effort of the then town mayor as well as passionate community members.
The group aims to educate the Hay community in caring for each other and to look for signs that a person may be contemplating suicide.
CASE uses the Community Response to Eliminating Suicide (CORES) suicide awareness training, and has trained over 140 members of the Hay and surrounding communities.
CASE now have their own local dedicated trainer who is now accredited to deliver the one day suicide intervention training. This will allow CASE to undertake more regular courses thus training more members of the community.
Fundraising has been very successful, and this enables CASE to heavily subsidise training for all community members and raises awareness. One very successful project was the initial bicycle ride from Sheffield in Tasmania (the home of CORES) to Hay, culminating in a “Happy Hay Day” festival in the park. A second bike ride was undertaken in 2014 and this time the ride was from Hay to Parliament House in Canberra. The ride not only raised suicide awareness but also allowed CASE to support the lobbying for a Headspace Centre in Griffith (now approved).
In 2012 it was decided that local contacts were needed for people seeking help so a local helpline was set up. The CASE 24/7 emergency mobile phone number is well advertised in the Hay area and manned on a rotation basis by members of CASE.
As well as the phone, people in need have approached CASE members directly for help. CASE does not offer counselling, just a friendly ear and support for the person to find professional help.
CASE has begun a monthly mutual support group for people who want to get together for a chat and share their feelings of grief or depression.
More recently to enable CASE to operate more efficiently they have been registered as a charity with taxation deduction status, with the appropriate authorities.
CASE has always tried to get the message out to everyone in the community and has regular media spots, as well as distributing beyondblue and other support material at many local events.
Posters and brochures have been put in numerous places around town and CASE members are active in promoting the group.
Tumby Bay, SA
A rural GP, Dr Graham Fleming, from Tumby Bay in South Australia became concerned about the deaths by suicide in his community and took steps to do something about it.
He involved the local school, hospital and community groups in addressing suicide prevention and community resilience.
He established a reference group, with members representing a range of local organisations, services and the community, with participation by a mental health consumer and carer.
Together they targeted depression in the community and undertook community training and other activities, thereby demonstrating the ability of a single-minded individual to mobilise community-driven suicide prevention.
Following on from spearheading action in his local community, Dr Fleming undertook research on suicide prevention which showed that “there is a significant increase in suicide rates of young men in towns with fewer than 4000 people, compared with those in more urban areas in NSW”.
His research also demonstrated the positive impacts of the community’s suicide prevention initiatives.
Wagga Wagga, NSW
Riverina Bluebell Inc. was established during the drought in 2007 by a small group of farmers and mental health professionals in Wagga Wagga NSW. The proactive organisation is run by volunteers and further information may be found at www.riverinabluebell.org.au
The organisation is not a service provider, rather it aims to:
- Increase awareness of the prevalence, signs and symptoms of depression and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness
- Provide links to professional support for Riverina community members living with depression and their families
- Encourage those with lived experience to seek help and take control of their mental health
- Develop promotional campaigns and liaise with media organisations to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health problems and how people experiencing mental health problems can seek assistance
- Provide community members with information regarding local services and professional support through the distribution of Riverina Bluebell flyers and through the website.
Riverina Bluebell Inc. community service:
- The organisation has developed strong links with local AFL, rugby, cricket and netball clubs and support annual events. Recently, they launched Read the Play, an innovative program which addresses mental health awareness and wellbeing to junior members of sporting clubs in the Murrumbidgee area
- Provide funding for Headstrong training programs for schools in liaison with the Black Dog Institute
- Liaise with fundraising groups and other philanthropic organisations and individuals to obtain funding to run programs and other activities aimed at promoting mental health awareness and addressing mental health issues in the Riverina region
- Promote and support the introduction of the Black Dog Institute programs, Insight for secondary students and Navigating Teen Depression for family members in regional schools throughout the Riverina
- Organise mental health presentations to secondary schools, businesses and community groups throughout the Riverina region.
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Download some reports from other community groups - find out about their aims and activities:
- Glenorchy Community Action Plan.pdf
- Galupa-Mamgarr Suicide Prevention Group.pdf
- Wagga-Wagga Blue Day activities.pdf
- Western-Sydney Suicide Prevention and Support Network.pdf
Here are some community suicide prevention Facebook pages to explore:
- Darwin Region Indigenous Suicide Prevention Network
- Western Sydney Suicide Prevention & Support Network
- Maitland Region Suicide Prevention Network
- Eastern Sydney Suicide Prevention Network
- Wagga Wagga & Region Suicide Prevention Network
- Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network
- Macarthur Suicide Prevention Network
- Suicide Prevention Australia