17 March 2021

An innovative trial will give children and young people access to community-based, non-clinical support following an attempted suicide, thanks to a $3.8 million investment from the NSW Government.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the service will be designed by young people with lived experience of suicide alongside families and carers, youth mental health and suicide prevention experts.

“Growing evidence tells us that following up and increasing community support for people after a suicide attempt can reduce the likelihood of a further attempt,” Mrs Taylor said.

“We know that young people are often reluctant to reach out for help and don’t always engage well with clinical services – what works well for adults often doesn’t work well for young people.

“The innovative service will involve rapid follow-up, continuity of care and establishing a genuine, compassionate connection with the young person using the service.”

“It will be designed for young people by young people and will not only change lives, it will save them.”

The Youth Suicide Crisis and Aftercare service pilot sites will begin operating in April at Blacktown in Western Sydney and Coffs Harbour on the mid-north Coast.

Mrs Taylor said that the locations were identified as experiencing especially high presentations to Emergency Departments of young people in crisis or who have self-harmed.

“The worst thing you can do in health is to tell regional areas that they are expected to deliver a service that was designed for a metropolitan area. The NSW Government is committed to building a safer, stronger regional NSW, so it is vital to listen to the voices of young people from areas outside of urban centres as well,” Mrs Taylor said.

Jack Heskett is a 23-year-old living in Kogarah, South Sydney, who has previously attempted suicide and is a member of the NSW Health reference group that shaped the scope of the trial.

“Those first few months out of hospital can be overwhelming and lonely. This type of care could make a real difference to young people feeling disconnected or a burden on others after they leave hospital,” Mr Heskett said.

Referrals to the Youth Suicide Crisis and Aftercare trial are expected from a range of health services, including emergency departments, mental health services and general practitioners.

Youth Aftercare has been funded through the Commonwealth Health Innovation Fund. It is in addition to the extensive range of new initiatives under the NSW Government’s Towards Zero Suicides Premier’s Priority, which includes $87 million in additional funding over three years to change the way that suicide prevention is delivered in this State.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511