Government of Western Australia

New plan to halve WA suicide numbers by 2025

Around one person loses their life to suicide every day in Western Australia. The impact of this statistic is felt deeply and spans the entire community.

Suicide Prevention 2020: Together we can save lives (Suicide Prevention 2020), aims to reduce the number of suicides in Western Australia’s by 50 per cent over the next decade.

Suicide Prevention 2020 is strongly evidence based and is informed by the latest research and the recommendations from recent reviews completed by Edith Cowan University, the Western Australian Ombudsman, and the Western Australian Auditor General.

It seeks to balance investment in community awareness and stigma reduction, mental health and suicide prevention training and coordinated services for high risk groups.

It recognises that the biggest risk factor for suicide and self-harm is having a mental illness and a previous suicide attempt. We also know that young people, Aboriginal people and people who have alcohol or other drug problems are also at greater risk of suicide than the general population; and Suicide Prevention 2020 targets these groups through specific initiatives.

There are six key action areas.

–         Greater public awareness and united action across the community.

–         Local support and community prevention across the lifespan.

–         Coordinated and targeted responses for high risk groups.

–         Shared responsibility across government, private and non-government sectors to build mentally healthy workplaces.

–         Increased suicide prevention training.

–         Timely data and evidence to improve responses and services

The State Government has committed $26 million over four years to implement initiatives and programs aligned with the six key action areas.

A comprehensive overarching implementation plan, as well as a specific Aboriginal Implementation Plan and Youth Engagement Strategy, will be developed to ensure that activity is developed and implemented in a coordinated and collaborative manner and with community input.

History

The State Government released the inaugural statewide suicide prevention strategy in 2009 and invested $21 million over six years. The Western Australian Suicide Prevention Strategy 2009-13 (the Strategy) closely reflected the national Living is for Everyone framework, with six action areas spanning a wide range of activities requiring community, government, private sector and community managed sector participation.

The Strategy had a strong focus on capacity building and awareness‑raising through local Community Action Plans for suicide prevention. It aimed to provide communities with the skills, understanding and resources to increase individual resilience; reduce stigma around mental illness and suicide; identify and respond to suicide risks; encourage access to appropriate services and supports; and establish greater collaboration across services. In total, 45 Community Action Plans were delivered in 255 locations.

Agency Pledge Partnerships were another key element of the Strategy. Over 260 organisations signed up to support the 2009-13 Strategy with the aim of reducing stigma around mental illness and suicide; increasing awareness of suicide prevention issues; and promoting relevant services among their employees. It was intended that greater understanding and training around mental health issues and suicide prevention would also have secondary benefits for employees’ families, stakeholder networks, and peer or community groups.

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