Beyond Blue welcomes the Commonwealth Government’s Budget commitment of $37.6 million over four years to expand The Way Back Support Service.
Chair of Beyond Blue, The Hon. Julia Gillard, AC, commended Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for his commitment to reducing Australia’s suicide rate and his belief in The Way Back model.
The Way Back Support Service – designed and developed by Beyond Blue with donations from The Movember Foundation and the community – targets the group of Australians most at risk of suicide: those who have previously tried to take their own lives.
About 200 Australians attempt suicide every day and of those, on average, eight will die.
People discharged from hospital following an attempt or suicidal crisis are 200 times more likely to end their own life.
Yet a recent Australian study suggests coordinated aftercare can decrease suicide attempts by almost 20 per cent.
“That is why we need The Way Back,” said Ms Gillard.
“It fills a gap in the health care system by supporting people through those critical first three months and helping them find their way back to hope by keeping them safe, connected and motivated to live.
“After three years and 1,600 people referred to our six sites, we know The Way Back is working as we intended: suicide by people who have been engaged with the service is less than one per cent.
“The Way Back Support Service is ready for a national roll out. I will be personally advocating to Premiers and Chief Ministers that they join with Minister Hunt in getting behind the Way Back. If we all get behind this up to 28,000 people and their families will be supported to find a way back from suicide.”
“And Beyond Blue will contribute a further $5 million towards the expansion, in addition to the Commonwealth’s investment.”
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said that a partnership of State and Territory Governments, Primary Health Networks and hospitals could make The Way Back available across the nation.
“Eight Australians will take their own lives today, tomorrow and every day until we – the community, governments, the health sectors – succeed in our fight to turn this around,” Ms Harman said.
“All Australian Health Ministers signed up to the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan last year.
“They committed to action on ‘consistent and timely follow-up care for people who have attempted suicide or are at risk of suicide’.”
Prior to discharge from hospitals people are referred to The Way Back Support Service where they are assigned a professional worker who provides practical, day-to-day assistance, including accessing follow-up treatment and services and keeping important appointments.
Their Way Back worker assists in developing a suicide safety plan that includes information about what to avoid, what to do when suicidal thoughts creep in, who to call and where to go.
They offer support to resolve matters that may have contributed to the suicide attempt – such employment issues, relationship challenges, isolation and loneliness – and help find hope to continue living.
Mental health professionals are available at the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM – 12AM AEST or email responses (within 24 hours).