A new support service in Brisbane’s North will help people who are most at risk of dying by suicide.
The Way Back Support Service, based in Redcliffe, will trial personalised support to people discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt.
Evidence shows that up to 50 per cent of people who attempt suicide refuse recommended treatment, and 60 per cent of those who engage in follow up support drop out after only one session.
Yet coordinated aftercare has the capacity to decrease suicide attempts by almost 20 per cent.
The Way Back, designed by Beyond Blue, bridges that gap and provides non-clinical, one-on-one care to guide people safely through this critical risk period.
When people are referred from Redcliffe Hospital to The Way Back, the specialised team will work together with the individual and their support people to identify their needs, develop a personalised safety plan, connect them to health and community services and clinical care, if needed. Support is provided for up to three months.
Data shows people living in suburbs of the Brisbane North Primary Health Network (PHN) are dying by suicide at a rate higher than the national average.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, people living in this PHN district died by suicide at a rate of 12.58 between 2012 and 2016, compared to the national average of 11.74. In the suburb of Redcliffe, the suicide rate was 17.6 between 2012 and 2016, which is 1.5 times the national average.
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the statistics demonstrate the need for services such as The Way Back.
“If someone has attempted suicide, we know there is a big risk they will try again within three months,” Ms Harman said.
“The Way Back helps people to stay safe and find their way back to living, to keep connected with others and to access health and community services as part of their recovery.”
Ms Harman and Federal Member for Petrie, Luke Howarth, will launch the service on 23 February. The service will be delivered by Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland (MIFQ) and funded by the Brisbane North Primary Health Network (PHN).
Paul Martin, Brisbane North PHN Executive Manager for Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs programs, said the PHN had provided Australian Government funding of more than $800,000 to support this trial.
“We have commissioned this service because our research shows Redcliffe has the greatest need in our region for suicide prevention support,” Mr Martin said.
MIFQ CEO Jennifer Pouwer said: “MIFQ is underpinned by a Population Health Approach, focused on supporting people.”
“This is the second time in 12 months that MIFQ, Beyond Blue and Brisbane North PHN have partnered together to deliver ground-breaking programs to this region – through The Way Back and NewAccess. MIFQ is committed to providing quality support that enables each individual to reclaim their life.
“As an organisation and, more personally, from our front-line support team, it is an immense privilege to work with members of our community during what is a very vulnerable time in their lives.”
Tina Pentland’s son Hamish died in 2009, with a history of mental health issues and several suicide attempts. Ms Pentland is a community representative for the Brisbane North Primary Health Network and was on a committee responsible for establishing The Way Back Support Service in Redcliffe.
“The Way Back Support Service offers real hope for recovery for people after a suicide attempt,” Ms Pentland said.
“The service offers short-term support to meet the individual’s needs and opens paths towards long-term strategies for living and further options for ongoing care.
“The Way Back’s Support Coordinators involve carers and families throughout a person’s recovery process. The impact of suicide on families is devastating, so it’s important to provide them with a source of hope and support during an incredibly difficult and frightening time.
“My son Hamish was 20 when he first attempted suicide. If the Way Back existed as a support for him then, I believe he could have had the early support he desperately needed to help him take control of his mental health and give him hope for life and he might still be alive today.”
Other services provided by MIFQ:
MIFQ also provides clinical support in addition to The Way Back Support Service’s non-clinical program, to meet an identified service gap in the Redcliffe area.