A guide to local suicide prevention

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Our team at Larter Consulting is pleased to see the publication of the Guide to Local Suicide Prevention, by the Victorian Department of Health. The Guide will support local community groups, local organisations, government agencies, and peak bodies to develop, co-design, and deliver local suicide prevention and response activities.

Beginning in 2016, the Victorian Government invested in place-based suicide prevention trials to prevent and respond to suicide in local communities. The Guide draws on the knowledge base developed through the trials across 12 sites over six years of operation, offering practical advice from people with lived experience of suicidality and bereavement.

Behind each and every suicide are a wide range of factors. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to suicide prevention, without considering unique and varying needs of individuals and communities at risk of suicide.

A place-based approach to suicide prevention engages local community members as active participants in developing solutions and works with local skills, expertise, and resources to deliver a range of suicide prevention activities that are specific to community needs. The Guide places an emphasis on the need for a tailored approach to suicide prevention in each location and serves as an example for communities, not only in Victoria but across the country.

The trials have brought together local businesses, services, and community groups that otherwise might seem so-far removed from one another – from local councils to barber shops, from hospitals to yarning circles, and from police to skate parks. Despite their differences, all parts of each Victorian community came together to work with, and learn from, people with lived experience of suicide.

The Guide advises to supplement local experience with existing research and local practitioner knowledge/skills. Balancing these three factors enables each locality to develop solutions that are based on local evidence. This, then, ensures that the solutions respond to the unique needs of each community.

Larter Consulting was engaged by the Department of Health to review the data from the trials, and to translate the learnings of an evaluation into practical and actionable suggestions for communities. The Guide is both a reflection on the achievements and learnings over six years, as well as providing guidance for Australian communities looking to take on community-based suicide prevention work. This is particularly helpful with bilateral commitments to suicide prevention, including coordination functions, for all 31 Primary Health Networks across Australia.

This is a helpful resource to be shared with your colleagues, networks, and members. In particular, in conjunction with this month being National Mental Health Month, the Guide provides us with an opportunity to further reflect on how mental health concerns have come to the fore in primary health care sector.

Contact us to discuss consulting support for suicide prevention or the development of mental health resources.

Please note that the Guide contains content that some readers may find distressing. Lifeline (13 11 14) or BeyondBlue (1300 224 636). In an emergency, please call 000.