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New suicide prevention advisory group

28 September 2016

This October sees the second meeting of the new Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention.

Established in response to a request in December 2015 by federal Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, the group provides advice, expertise and strategic support for suicide prevention policy across Australia by identifying priorities and promoting action.

In keeping with the National Mental Health Commission’s commitment to the ideal of nothing about us without us, membership includes people with a lived experience of mental ill health.

The nationally representative group is co-chaired by Sharon Jones from Relationships Australia Tasmania and Lucy Brogden, commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission.

“We know support for people at risk of suicide is improved when evidence based, carefully planned and personalised approaches are delivered in local communities,” Sharon Jones said.

“Timely follow up of people who have self-harmed or attempted suicide is also vital.

“Importantly too, services need to be able to readily adapt to reduce suicide amongst the highest risk groups, including people living in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

Suicide, according to 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, has continued on an upward trend and is at the highest rate in ten years. It was the leading cause of death in people aged 15-34 years and the suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is double that of the non-Indigenous population.

Mrs Brogden said: “The Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention is committed to arresting this trend. Our mission is to provide evidence based advice on suicide and self-harm issues to the government and community.

“The group has a strategic role to monitor and evaluate the outcome of the Commonwealth’s significant investment in the 12 suicide prevention trial sites across Australia.

“As appropriate, the advisory group will assist primary health networks, PHNs, as they develop their own systematic approaches to community based suicide prevention.

“We believe a coordinated approach across sectors including health, community services, housing, employment and education is needed to create a national infrastructure and leadership on suicide prevention to government and the community.

“We understand that communities have an important role to play in suicide prevention. Working with the ABS and other interested groups who collect and analyse data is a critical to strong and effective suicide prevention strategies,” she said.

The Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention held its inaugural meeting in June 2016.

"Even the most disadvantaged Australians should be able to lead a 'contributing life,' whatever that means for them and this simple goal will be our touchstone and yardstick."

Chair Prof Allan Fels AO
National Mental Health Commission

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