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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Bega Valley and Eurobodalla locals join together to prevent suicide

With suicide being the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 years, a new cross-sectoral alliance has been formed in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla, working together to lower suicide rates within the region. The group is also working to ensure support options meet local people’s needs, are inclusive, compassionate, sustainable and accountable.

The newly formed Bega Valley Eurobodalla Suicide Prevention Collaborative (the Collaborative) consists of more than 25 individuals, including representatives from 18 local organisations and entities including government, non-government, health, education, social services and community bodies. This is not a closed group, the invitation to join the Collaborative is open to like-minded individuals and organisations.

According to Jo Riley, Suicide Prevention Program Manager at COORDINARE - South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, the official launch of The Collaborative will be held on Thursday 25 May at 10am at the Bega Valley Civic Centre with representation from local community members, people with lived experience of suicide, service providers and local organisations. Everyone is welcome.

Jo explained, “It makes sense for suicide prevention interventions to work within a community, there needs to be a broad range of approaches, targeting many areas, simultaneously. There is evidence in overseas and national research that this approach, called the systems approach, has helped to lower suicide numbers.”

“In late 2022, we held planning workshops to help map the future direction of suicide prevention approaches and supports in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla regions,” Jo said.

We have held a lot of discussions about our shared purpose, values and identity, said Helen Best, lived experience advocate and Chair of the Bega Valley Suicide Prevention Action Network.

"We are very much a grass roots group wanting to involve and empower our community. By drawing on local experience, giving people with lived experience a voice and creating better connections we aim to improve services for the communities where we live and work,” said Helen.

“The Collaborative will help advocate for the needs of the region, asking for the changes needed to reduce suicide within our rural and regional context,” Glenn Cotter, local lived experience advocate and R U OK? Ambassador added.

“People sharing their stories of lived or living experience of suicide is having a positive and preventative effect, helping to reduce stigma and improve understanding in the community of the factors that contribute to suicide and the supports available. People with lived experience also identify the best ways to connect people with supports and improvements so support services are more approachable and user friendly,” said Glenn.

Jo Riley added, “An unacceptable number of people die each year by suicide. In Australia in 2021, 3,144 people died by suicide in Australia. It is estimated that a further 65,000 will make a suicide attempt and 1 in 6 Australians will have serious thoughts of suicide in their lifetime.

“While suicide prevention is an issue at the national and state level, on the South Coast we know that we lose around 15 people every year to suicide. Every life lost is one too many and each suicide affects a large number of people, such as the person’s family, friends, children, partners and work colleagues. Our communities are so interconnected, many people know of someone who has died by suicide,” said Jo.

So why have suicide rates stayed unacceptably high? Renee Green, CEO of Lifeline South Coast added: “Suicidal behaviour is extremely complex, with many risk factors across an individual’s lifespan interacting together; and the important issues for one person will be different from those for someone else.”

“The Collaborative represents a local, whole of community effort aimed at moving away from a medicalised model of suicide prevention geared only towards people with mental illness and considers the social and situational factors of suicide risk, including financial distress, alcohol or drug use, loneliness, and relationship breakdowns,” said Renee.

“Our aim is to work together to reduce the impact of suicide through easier access to a range of information and support options, growing and supporting the suicide prevention and lived experience workforce and coordinating our response when there is a loss in the community.

“Tackling social issues, compassionate support options and building connected and empowered communities will contribute to suicide prevention,” Renee added.

If you are interested in joining the Collaborative to have a meaningful impact on reducing suicide in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla communities, please email bvecollaborative@coordinare.org.au

If you are feeling distressed and in need of immediate assistance, please contact Lifeline (24/7, phone 13 1114) or 13YARN (24/7, phone 13 92 76). Support for those impacted by suicide loss is available from StandBy Support After Suicide (24/7, phone 1300 727 247) and Thirrili Indigenous Postvention Support (24/7,phone 1800 805 801).

Refer to mindframe.org.au for support and advice on reporting of suicide-related stories.

Please note Bega Valley Eurobodalla Suicide Prevention Collaborative is NOT a crisis response service.

If you, or someone you are with, is in immediate danger call 000

Crisis and Counselling Telephone Lines:

• Lifeline: 13 11 14

• Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

• 13YARN: 13 92 76

• BeyondBlue: 1300 22 4636

• Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78

• Veterans Line: 1800 011 046

• Qlife: 1800 184 527

• Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

You need not walk alone.

Visit websites for more information.



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