Support networks vital

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals suicide rates are at a 10-year high.
The Causes of Death Australia 2017 report, released last week, indicates the national suicide rate increased 9.1 per cent over 12 months, with 3128 taking their lives in 2017 compared to 2866 in 2016.
beyondblue clinical advisor Dr Stephen Carbone said these figures were in line with a decade-long upward trend.
“That is why we need a multi-pronged approach that includes awareness, prevention and early intervention,” Mr Carbone said.
Responding to the alarming figures, Jeremy Forbes, the founder of local support network Hope Assistance Local Tradies, said he was disappointed HALT had missed out on vital government funding.
“The Australian Government recently announced the release of $36 million in funds to suicide prevention organisations,” Mr Forbes said.
“HALT applied for some federal government funding in 2016, two years later we were not even aware that there was funding available, then I see this release, and we’ve missed out.”
Adding to the disappointment, HALT also discovered last week it was unlucky to miss out on valuable state government Pick My Project funding by just 10 votes.
“We need organisations like HALT that are going to connect people to each other and to other vital support networks and groups in regional areas,” he said.
“The suicide rate has gone up and it seems like we have gone backwards.”
Mr Forbes said HALT was now working across five states in Australia and building capacity and understanding, working in communities. He said he would like to have HALT workers in each state and in more communities.
“If I had funding I could have 15 or more HALT workers across Australia doing what I’m doing, working intensely within communities on a grassroots level.
“We’ve read the stats and men still struggle to have these important conversations with a mate, and it’s not just about the conversation, but it’s where do you tell a mate to go.
“I get at least two or three calls a week for advice, so we need to get out in the communities and have more of these conversations.”
Mr Forbes said anyone looking for help should see a doctor or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
“Your doctor can help you with your mental health. You can also go to a doctor out of town or to a community health centre, and get a mental health plan done.
“It’s also important to know that Lifeline is not just there for people who are suicidal, but it’s also there if you’ve had a crap day and you just want someone to talk to, and it’s anonymous.”

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