Education to reduce suicide

A suicide prevention education program will be held in Whyalla next month for health and human service professionals. Pictured were School of Nursing and Midwifery Mental Health and Substance Use Research Group research associate Doctor Monika Ferguson and Department of Rural Health director Associate Professor Martin Jones.
A suicide prevention education program will be held in Whyalla next month for health and human service professionals. Pictured were School of Nursing and Midwifery Mental Health and Substance Use Research Group research associate Doctor Monika Ferguson and Department of Rural Health director Associate Professor Martin Jones.

A suicide prevention education program will be held in Whyalla next month for health and human service professionals to address a need to reduce suicide in regional communities.

National data indicates suicide rates are up to 30 per cent higher in rural and remote areas compared to major cities, with rates increasing as remoteness increases.

The one day training session will be held in Whyalla on October 29 at the UniSA Whyalla campus for health workers, school staff, future health care professionals and people in non-government sectors to build their capacity to effectively engage people at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The project will be presented by a research team from the University of South Australia and is being led by School of Nursing and Midwifery mental health nursing chair Professor Nicholas Procter and Department of Rural Health director Associate Professor Martin Jones.

The pair will also be well-support by School of Nursing and Midwifery Mental Health and Substance Use Research Group research associate Doctor Monika Ferguson, Lee Martinez, Kathryn Cronin, Lynne James, Rebecca Shammas, Bronwyn Ryan and Associate Professor Jim Dolman.

Dr Jones said suicide was a major public health concern, particularly in rural Australia.

"Suicide is everyone's business, suicide is preventable and we all have a role to play," he said.

"The good news is there is things we can do, if we look out for people and if we show compassion and care, and if we can maybe help signpost people to get appropriate help, there is good evidence to indicate that it can significantly reduce risk."

Doctor Jones said the program would be delivered in eight communities across the region and provide a valuable opportunity to stimulate conversations about the need to reduce suicide.

"A real strength of regional and remote Australia is the integration of the towns and the communities here so it gives us an ideal opportunity to have a conversation with the communities to see what we can actually do," Dr Jones said.

The one-day training will feature a mix of lecture-style sessions as well as case studies and interactive learning activities such as role play activities.

Dr Ferguson said the training would also offer a guest speaker with a lived experience with suicide to offer their perspective through an interview-style session.

"Really we're going to be focussing on what you can do," Dr Ferguson said.

"So whether you're a teacher or a social worker or a physio, how you talk to someone who is in a difficult place and what kind of supports and services they might need and how you can connect with other people in the community to provide that chain of care."

Dr Ferguson said the training event would also provide an opportunity for people from a diverse range of sectors across the city to form networks and work together for a shared-care approach.

"By bringing different parts of the community together we're hoping that will build more networks for people in a professional capacity to know who does what, who they can turn to for what kind of help or support they might need so they can continue those conversations after the training day has finished and after our contact has finished," Dr Ferguson said.

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