The Chair of Beyond Blue, The Hon Julia Gillard, AC, is appealing to governments around Australia to get behind a service that is saving the lives of people most at risk of suicide.
Ms Gillard said 200 people attempt suicide in Australia each day and people discharged from hospital following an attempt or suicidal crisis are 200 times more likely to end their own life.
Yet up to 50 per cent of those who attempt suicide refuse recommended treatment, and 60 per cent of those who engage in follow up support drop out after only one session.
“We know that intensive support in the community in the days and weeks following hospital discharge reduces suicide reattempts and deaths,” Ms Gillard said.
“Yet there is no guaranteed, systematic follow-up care to keep them safe, connected and motivated to live.
“Put simply, the system is failing them. We are failing them.”
That is why Beyond Blue developed The Way Back Support Service which has received more than 1600 referrals from six sites around Australia since its pilot program began in Darwin in 2014.
Hospitals refer patients to The Way Back Support Service which delivers one-on-one practical assistance like making a suicide safety plan, keeping GP appointments, resolving issues that may have contributed to suicidal thinking such as loneliness, isolation, employment and relationship challenges.
The Way Back Support Service now operates in partnership with hospitals in Newcastle, Canberra, Geelong, Murrumbidgee, Redcliffe, and the Clarence Valley, but more services are urgently needed.
“I am heartened that the federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt has shown great interest in and support for this proposition, but the Commonwealth can’t do this alone, which is why Beyond Blue is appealing to all governments to back The Way Back Support Service,” Ms Gillard said.
“The Way Back averts suicide attempts and deaths. It reduces the cost to the health system of readmissions and offers support to families and friends.
“Beyond Blue believes that everyone should have equal access to this life-saving initiative regardless of which hospital they attend or what postcode they live in.”
Learn more about identifying and responding to warning signs of suicide at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/worried-about-suicide/what-are-the-warning-signs
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).