Planning underway for Tasmanian part of national suicide prevention trial

Boosting collaboration among local community members, groups and services already working hard to prevent suicide is a focus of the Tasmanian part of the national suicide prevention trial.

Tasmania is one of 12 sites around the country taking part in the Australian Government-funded trial, which aims to test how a more coordinated approach can help local communities reduce the rate of suicide attempts and deaths by suicide.

The three Tasmanian trial sites are Break O’Day, Launceston and three north west region municipalities (Burnie, Central Coast and Devonport).

Primary Health Tasmania, alongside the Black Dog Institute, held information sessions on 28 February, 1 and 2 March to inform communities about the trial and the adoption of the LifeSpan approach to suicide prevention - a model that combines nine evidence-based strategies to develop a “safety net” for vulnerable people in a community.

The days were divided into a public morning session, with presentations by representatives from Primary Health Tasmania and the Black Dog Institute, and followed by an afternoon session where members of each site’s working group brainstormed ideas for their local trial activity plans.

You can view presentations by the Black Dog Institute and Primary Health Tasmania here.

Davina Dressler, from the Institute, told each information session the LifeSpan model aims to bridge the gap between research and practice to ensure prevention methods are best-placed to have a tangible effect.

Notably, it also targets a cross-section of local groups such as emergency services, schools and the media, to encourage a collective and collaborative method of suicide prevention.

“We know that there are wonderful things happening in Tasmania and across the rest of the country to reduce suicide, but what we don’t always do is do it in partnership,” Primary Health Tasmania’s Grant Akesson told reporters in Launceston on 1 March.

“The aim of LifeSpan is to bring all those different services together.”

Each Tasmanian trial site also features a local host organisation to help coordinate the working group’s shared journey: St Helens Neighbourhood House in Break O’Day, Launceston City Council in Launceston and Relationships Australia for the north west.

At St Helens on 28 February, Trish O'Duffy from St Helens Neighbourhood House said it was the first time the group had got together to begin refining their plans for the Break O’Day community.

“It really is a work in progress,” she said.

At Ulverstone on 2 March, Primary Health Tasmania’s Mark Broxton congratulated the north west site’s “fantastic” and varied turnout and echoed the sentiment of “better connectivity” being key to the LifeSpan approach.

The Australian Government has provided $3 million for the Tasmanian component of the trial, which is scheduled to run until 30 June 2020.

The Tasmanian trial activity will focus on men aged 40-64, as well as men and women over the age of 65.

You can read more about the suicide prevention trial, including a fact sheet about QPR (Question, Persuade, Respond) Training, here.

Pictured: (left to right) Break O'Day trial coordinator Helen Bridgman, Primary Health Tasmania's Martina Wyss, St Helens Neighbourhood House's Trish O'Duffy and Acting Sergeant Robert Shepherd from St Helens Police Station.


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