19 March 2019
With suicide rates in the Fraser Coast above the state average, USC has partnered with the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service to improve access to help for people at risk of taking their own lives.
Lead researcher USC Lecturer in Social Work Dr Kate Jonathan said a 12-month study would map available suicide prevention services and resources in the region.
It will also determine links between professionals and organisations to aid timely and appropriate referrals and follow-up treatments.
“When someone is suicidal they are desperate. They need to seek professional help and they should be able to know exactly where they can go to get the right support,” Dr Jonathan said.
“We are talking life and death here. If someone who is at this point has to go from one agency to another and does not get help or a solution, it can be devastating.”
We want concrete data to get a clear picture of the extent of this complex and challenging problem and to make suicide prevention help simpler and more easily accessible.”
Researchers are conducting one-on-one interviews and holding focus groups sessions with professional services, agencies and organisations involved in suicide prevention, including mental health providers, front-line health services and community groups.
They said the findings would help to identify gaps in resources and facilitate a better understanding of those responsible for suicide prevention in the region.
Dr Jonathan said the mental health sector, GPs and hospital emergency departments were often the first to become aware when someone was exhibiting suicidal thoughts or behaviours.
“However, because suicide still carries a stigma, those at risk of taking their own lives or self-harming may find it too intimidating or complex to seek help from these more formal sectors,” she said.
“If people don’t feel that they can share their problems with health professionals, it is paramount that they are aware of other local agencies or services they can go to for help”
The research team also includes the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service’s Clinical Director of Addiction Medicine, Mental Health and Specialised services Associate Professor Kees Nydam and senior psychologist and UQ Rural Clinical School lecturer Daniel Banos Illan.
Last month, USC launched the Alliance for Suicide Prevention – Sunshine Coast, in another effort to combat the region’s suicide figures that are higher than the national average.
— Clare McKay