The NSW Government is investing nearly $90 million over the next three years into new suicide prevention initiatives. These initiatives address priorities under the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-23 and will be implemented in every local health district. They will be developed and delivered with a major focus on the involvement of people with lived experience of suicide and all key stakeholders. Together these initiatives will support communities around NSW to start the journey towards zero suicides.

Last updated: 27 November 2019

Zero Suicides in Care - $10.2 million

This initiative will support staff in the mental health system to redesign procedures, reduce risks and build skills to prevent suicides among people with mental health conditions in hospital inpatient and community care. In line with national and international best practice, Zero Suicides in Care will foster a just and restorative organisational culture and strong service leadership to promote safety for patients and staff. A blame-free working environment will be upheld where excellent health care ensures that people with mental health conditions and their families recover and are protected from selfharm. Throughout 2019, global experts in Zero Suicides will work with local health districts to establish an implementation model for NSW. Additional staffing will be made available in every local health district to deliver local strategies in partnership with people with lived experience that support the cultural and practical changes necessary to improve safety.

Aftercare - $9 million

A suicide attempt is the most significant risk factor for further suicidal behaviour so people who have made an attempt are a high priority for suicide prevention. This initiative will match Commonwealth Government funding to expand beyondblue’s The Way Back Support Service, which provides aftercare to people after discharge from hospital following a suicide attempt. The Way Back provides three months of follow up and psychosocial, peer-based support in the community. Evaluation has found subsequent suicide attempts of less than 1% among The Way Back participants during this critical three month period. Under this initiative, The Way Back will be maintained in its current locations and expanded to several new sites in coordination with Primary Health Networks.

Alternatives to Emergency Department Presentations - $25.1 million

Many people present to Emergency Departments experiencing suicidal thinking, unsure of where else to go and especially after hours. However, Emergency Departments are not the most suitable environments for people experiencing mental distress. This initiative will deliver important new services that provide an alternative to presenting to emergency during times of crisis. These services will be derived from the United Kingdom’s Safe Haven café model that has shown a 33% reduction in admissions to mental health inpatient units in their catchments. Safe Havens are a safe, nonmedical space staffed by peer support workers and other professionals. Twenty new services will be delivered across NSW starting from July 2019 with local health districts working with people with lived experience to co-design local models.

Improved Collection and Distribution of Suicide Data - $1.95 million

This initiative will reform the management of suicide data in NSW. It will address the fragmentation, confusion and lack of accessibility that characterises the current system. Following the NSW Suicide Prevention Data Forum held in September 2018, a working group of data experts including people with lived experience has been formed that will implement an 18 month work plan to improve the quality, timeliness and accessibility of suicide data. It is expected that a number of priority projects will be undertaken that will better link and analyse the existing datasets held across various systems, and, importantly, develop NSW’s first register of suicide fatalities. These activities will provide authoritative and easily reached information to support communities, local organisations and government agencies to respond to suicide faster and more effectively.

Resilience Building in Local Communities - $8.175 million

This initiative includes two projects:

Project one: This project will be designed and led by Aboriginal people and will provide additional staffing and resources to Aboriginal community controlled health organisations for activities that build resilience, strengthen identity and promote culture. Aboriginal communities experience a higher rate of suicide and self-harm, requiring urgent and culturally appropriate action. This project will support communities to generate their own solutions for their local context.

Project two: This project will support the development and sustaining of local community suicide prevention collaboratives in areas of NSW with especially high rates of suicides. In recent years, collaboratives have formed in some areas consisting of people with lived experience, community members, local councils, health organisations, industry, police, emergency services and other stakeholders. Local and statewide staff will support these collaboratives to develop and implement evidence-based activities in their communities.

Postvention Services for People Bereaved by Suicide - $4.56 million

‘Postvention’ refers to immediate practical and emotional support provided to people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Support can include counselling, peer support, and assistance with dealing with police, coroners’ investigations, family issues, media reporting and other matters. In this initiative, new services will be co-designed by people with lived experience and experts in the postvention field to deliver essential new services for people bereaved by suicide. The developed service model will then be tendered to community managed organisations in rural, regional and metropolitan areas with services anticipated to commence by the end of 2019.

Enhancement to rural counselling - $6.75 million

This initiative will provide new counsellors in rural areas through non-government / community-managed mental health organisations. Given the higher rate of suicide among people living in rural and regional NSW, expanding the workforce available to support people experiencing hardship and distress is critical. These counsellors will increase the psychological and emotional support available to people, communities and workplaces in rural areas so they can better cope with natural disasters, economic changes and severe adversity. This will include providing dedicated support to people experiencing suicidal ideation or recovering from a suicide attempt.

Assertive Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams - $21.35 million

This initiative will work with people with lived experience, clinicians and community organisations to co-design a new model to provide care for and follow up people in the community who are experiencing a suicidal crisis. New teams will be formed in every local health district to expand the local suicide prevention workforce so that more people who are in distress can be supported more quickly. Co-design processes will take place to work with local stakeholders to design teams that respond to local priorities and integrate with the existing service system.

Suicide Prevention Community Gatekeeper Training

‘Gatekeepers’ are key leaders or popular people in communities that may come in contact with people who are experiencing suicidal thinking or behaviour. Gatekeeper training, that builds skills in responding to and supporting suicidal people to get the help they need, is regarded as one of the most effective and critical elements of suicide prevention. In this initiative, community networks, organisations, services and workplaces will be provided funds to purchase evidence-based training for gatekeepers, supported by related activities such as health promotion, social media content or local community campaigns.​​​​

Page Updated: Wednesday 27 November 2019
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch