Media releases

Innovative program supporting people at risk of suicide

10 Sep 2018

A Beyond Blue suicide prevention program that supports people following a suicide attempt is expanding, as data illustrates the need for better suicide aftercare in Australia.

To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day 2018, new figures show Beyond Blue's innovative The Way Back Support Service is saving lives.

The service has supported more than 2,039 people discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt or suicidal crisis.

Of all referrals, 1,568 people – or 77 percent – engaged with the program, a significant number given half of all people who attempt suicide do not participate in follow up support and treatment.

Suicide rates among those who have participated in The Way Back are below one percent – much lower than would be expected without support.

“This tells us that The Way Back is doing just what it’s designed to do – fill a gap by connecting people to services and supporting people to find their way back to life following a suicide attempt,” said Chair of Beyond Blue The Hon. Julia Gillard AC.

Too often those discharged from hospital have no choice but to return to the circumstances that contributed to their distress.

Research shows these people are highly vulnerable to further suicide attempts, especially in the three months following discharge.

Data illustrates the need for us to do better for these people and their loved ones:

  • Eight people die by suicide every day in Australia
  • More than 240 people attempt suicide each day across Australia
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged between 15 and 44 in Australia.

Hospitals refer people to The Way Back Support Service where they receive one-on-one practical assistance in the community. The Way Back support workers help the person to make a suicide safety plan, keep specialist appointments, and work through issues that may have contributed to suicidal thinking such as loneliness, isolation, employment and relationship challenges.

The service, which began as a trial in Darwin in 2014, now operates in partnership with hospitals at seven sites including Newcastle, Canberra, Geelong, Murrumbidgee, Redcliffe, and the NSW North Coast.

“The Commonwealth government has recognised the importance of this service, having dedicated $37.6 million towards its expansion over the next four years through Primary Health Networks,” Ms Gillard said.

“We at Beyond Blue will contribute another $5 million and we’re talking now to the states and territories about getting them on board.”

“The Way Back Support Service is ready, now, for national rollout. If states and territories can get behind it too, we know this expansion has the potential to support up to 28,000 people, and their families, find their way back after a suicide attempt.”

Beyond Blue is also reassuring people it is safe to talk about suicide. The #YouCanTalk campaign, a collaboration between mental health and suicide prevention organisations, is encouraging people to learn the signs and what to say to someone at risk of suicide: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention.

 

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).

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