In a NSW first, LGBTQ+ people across the State who are at risk of suicide can now access tailored support from a dedicated suicide prevention service.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the new state-wide service, run by community organisation ACON, will support residents 18 years and older who would benefit from short-term counselling, care coordination and peer support.
“Tragically, too many members of the LGBTQ+ community struggle with feelings of loneliness, shame or disconnection due to experiences of prejudice, even abuse,” Mrs Taylor said.
“These experiences can impact people greatly. People in some of these communities are 13 times more likely to have attempted suicide in the last 12 months compared to the general population.
“ACON will work with at-risk individuals to identify and manage issues that are triggering their suicidal thinking and behaviour. The team will also connect them to social, financial, legal and community services to provide a tailored support network.
“By providing this holistic care for up to six months, we hope to support people to live a long life, confident in their self-worth and ability to manage life’s ups and downs.”
The service is a mix of face-to-face outreach and virtual care from ACON’s offices in Surry Hills (Sydney) and Newcastle. Peer support is a core part of the service, where staff draw on lived experience in their roles as mentors and advocates.
ACON Associate Director of Clinical and Client Services Genevieve Whitlam said the service is free, confidential and does not need a referral.
“Many people from LGBTQ+ communities are reluctant to seek professional help because of past experiences of stigma or ignorance within some healthcare settings,” Ms Whitlam said.
“We want to provide those people with hope. Hope for recovery, hope for a better future and hope for a life defined by inclusion, pride and love.
“We can also support other service providers to respond more effectively to the unique mental health needs of people who identify as LGBTQ+.”
To access the confidential service, people will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone. More details are available on the ACON website.
ACON was awarded $1,055,000 from the 2020-24 Suicide Prevention Fund to provide state-wide aftercare to the LGBTQ+ community. The Suicide Prevention Fund is part of Towards Zero Suicides; a Premier’s Priority and $87 million investment over three years in new suicide prevention initiatives.