New suicide prevention service provides a way back

Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, and Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack MP, today launched The Way Back at the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network’s head office in Wagga Wagga. 

The service will be delivered by Wellways, which will receive $781,500 in funding to deliver the Murrumbidgee Suicide Prevention Program. 

“On average eight Australians take their own lives each day,” Mr McCormack said. 

“As a community, we need to get serious about addressing this issue. 

“Welcoming this service into our region is a positive step to support local people in their recovery.” 

The Way Back, developed by beyondblue and already adopted in a number of PHNs, provides a trained Support Coordinator who contacts a person within 24 hours of being discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt. 

The coordinator also provides the person with one-on-one support and non-clinical care for up to three months. 

Statistics show this group is at high risk of attempting suicide within three months of being discharged if they do not have a support network. 

Minister McKenzie said The Way Back Service provides a one-on-one relationship approach which has proven successful in ensuring people get the support they need. 

Murrumbidgee is the seventh site of The Way Back to open in Australia. More than 1200 people have been referred to the service nationally since 2014. 

Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network is also a trial site for LifeSpan, a nine step suicide prevention model developed by the Black Dog Institute, which is being implemented in four regions of NSW with funding from the Paul Ramsay Institute. 

The Government has provided approximately $19.3 million to Murrumbidgee PHN specifically for mental health and suicide prevention programs for the three years to June 2019. 

Giving Primary Health Networks responsibility for commissioning programs at the regional level is part of the Coalition Government’s renewed approach to suicide prevention, together with national suicide prevention leadership and support activity. 

The number of deaths due to suicide in Australia fell from 3,027 in 2015 to 2,866 in 2016. However, suicide continues to be the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 44 years. 

Addressing suicide can be complicated, but now is the time to think big, keep the momentum rolling and embrace new ideas.

Joint media release: Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie (Deputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, Minister for Regional Communications) and The Hon Michael McCormack MP (Member for Riverina, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Minister for Defence Personnel)

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Georgie Harman, beyondblue Chief Executive Officer; Gavin Bussenschutt, Wellways General Manager ACT and NSW; Hon Michael McCormack MP; Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie; Laura Collister, Wellways Director of Mental Health Services Research and Development; and Melissa Neal, Murrumbidgee PHN Acting Chief Executive Officer.

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harm to themselves or others, please contact emergency services on 000. For individuals who may be affected by this story, or if you need help, please contact the beyondblue 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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Cristy Houghton