Suicide prevention

Suicide affects individuals, families and communities in Tasmania and across Australia.

Primary Health Tasmania is working with communities and service providers to reduce the incidence and impact of suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Trial

In 2016, the Australian Government launched the National Suicide Prevention Trial. This initiative was focused on trialling systems approaches to suicide prevention in 12 regions across Australia, with the aim of testing how community-led approaches can help reduce the rate of suicide attempts and deaths. Tasmania was one of 12 sites around the country taking part in the trial and focused on men aged 40-64, as well as men and women over the age of 65.

The three Tasmanian trial sites that took part in the trial were:

• Break O’Day
• Launceston
• Burnie, Central Coast and Devonport.

In January 2020, the Australian Government announced a 12-month extension to the National Suicide Prevention Trial. The extended trial finished in June 2021, and focused on transitioning and sustaining existing suicide prevention activity. Primary Health Tasmania is providing support to the three sites beyond this time, to embed the lessons learned from their participation in the trial.

Activity in each trial site was coordinated by a local organisation which works closely with community members and service providers: St Helens Neighbourhood House in the Break O’Day municipality, Launceston City Council in Launceston’s northern suburbs and Relationships Australia in the north west.

Click here to find out more about suicide prevention trial activity conducted at the three trial sites, plus lessons learned, in Tasmania.

The role of pharmacists in suicide prevention

At a statewide level, Primary Health Tasmania continues to work with pharmacy and general practice organisations to look at ways of supporting community pharmacists and GPs in suicide prevention.

The Pharmacy Project, supported by Primary Health Tasmania, is helping community pharmacists to play a meaningful role in suicide prevention by building their confidence and skills to respond to people in distress and at risk of suicide. It is a collaboration between the Black Dog Institute, the Tasmanian branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), the Tasmanian Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Curtin University,

To date, more than 80 pharmacists from the approximately 160 community pharmacies in Tasmania have undertaken evidence-based suicide prevention training and have gained access to additional resources that will help them identify signs of suicidal behaviour among their customers.

The first stage of the project involved a literature review and co-design workshops with pharmacists, which helped identify three priority action areas: advanced suicide prevention training for pharmacists, localised health pathways, and means restriction.

A customised educational program for pharmacists was co-created and piloted in 2019. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, an online version of the training was developed and rolled out in 2020/21.

In parallel, the project team worked to develop dedicated accompanying materials for use in community pharmacies, including encouraging the use of Tasmanian HealthPathways.

A survey about means restriction is being conducted across Tasmania, alongside targeted interviews to understand the role pharmacists currently play in restricting the means used for suicide, in the case of pharmacies ‘staged supply’. Staged supply aims to reduce risk of prescribed medication overdose by limiting medication quantities for patients identified as being at risk of suicide. This part of the project aims to create a comprehensive picture of how staged supply works in pharmacies across Tasmania and identify challenges and areas for improvement in the care provided to people in crisis. The project will continue until June 2022.

“The training upskilled us to be able to help people and refer them on to their GP, [as well as] services like Black Dog Institute, Beyond Blue and Lifeline. It really increased our skills and confidence in talking to people that appear to be distressed.”

Serena Hayward, owner, Mews Pharmacy.

Contact us if you would like to know more.

Question, Persuade, Refer

As part of the Australian Government’s National Suicide Prevention Trial, Primary Health Tasmania has purchased licences for QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper Training through the Black Dog Institute.

QPR is an online education program that aims to teach people the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond following three steps: Question, Persuade and Refer.

Click here to find out how you can access the free training.


Tasmanian Communications Charter

Tasmania is the first state to adopt the National Communications Charter — a unifying resource for mental health, suicide prevention, government, business, and community organisations. On a local level, the Tasmanian Communications Charter champions a safe and stigma-free approach to talking about suicide that is consistent across various branches of the community.

Primary Health Tasmania is signatory to the Tasmanian Communications Charter.

You can find out more about it here.

Tasmanian HealthPathways

Primary Health Tasmania has produced a range of Tasmanian HealthPathways for local practitioners on topics such as:

  • suicide risk
  • suicide prevention in youth
  • depression in older adults
  • deliberate self-harm.

Click here to access the Tasmanian HealthPathways portal.

Our commissioned activity

Primary Health Tasmania also supports other local initiatives designed to reduce suicide, as part of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

This includes working with local organisations to provide early intervention programs for people in remote and rural parts of the state, as well as those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

We also target workers by supporting workplace training in mental health and wellbeing awareness, resilience skilling and capacity building across different industries.

Find out more about our commissioned services by exploring Our Services Portal.

Mark Fishwick was relaxing at home one Saturday night when his phone unexpectedly rang. It was one of the Tasmanian Building Group Apprenticeship Scheme (TasBGAS) field officer’s apprentices, and he wasn’t in a good place.
“It was strange of him to call at that time, and I worked out that he was considering self harm,” he remembers.
Mark, who has spent the last 20 years managing apprenticeships in Tasmania, was able to use some of his own training to de-escalate the young man’s distress.
He’s lost three apprentices to suicide in his lifetime – but, thankfully, none since TasBGAS started working with OzHelp Tasmania to deliver training and support to the young workers in their care.
Read more here.


Primary Health Tasmania does not offer health services, crisis, or emergency support.

Your regular general practitioner/doctors surgery should always be your first point of call if you need medical or mental health care

In an emergency, call Triple 000 for Ambulance, Fire or Police

For health advice on health services open at night, public holidays and weekends, visit the Tas After Hours website.

The following helplines are also available for urgent assistance:

  • Access Mental Health helpline (Tasmanian Government) 1800 332 388
  • Lifeline Crisis Help 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
  • Drug and Alcohol Counselling (Tasmanian Government, after hours) 1800 811 994
  • Poison Information Centre 13 11 26