Community unites to launch youth suicide prevention report

Young people, their families and friends, health workers and organisations, researchers, and government representatives have come together to launch the Informing Youth Suicide Prevention for Western Australia report.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death for young people in WA aged 15 to 24 years. Nationally, suicide accounts for more than one third of all deaths in this age group. The report aims to inform a youth suicide prevention framework for WA to combat these statistics.

The report is informed by real experiences and needs, with 55 young people participating in the project, bravely sharing their stories to encourage change.

“It is important that we recognise the insight and unique perspective that young people provide,” WA Primary Health Alliance Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Sharleen Delane said.

“It is critical to include them, listen to them, work alongside them and support them, if we are going to tackle youth suicide rates.”

The young people involved were asked to describe how they find support for mental health concerns, who in their community they feel should be able to support them and what barriers and challenges they face when seeking mental health support.

Some of the barriers identified were a fear of being judged by service providers, the shame and stigma attached to mental health and suicidal thoughts, and restrictions around access to services such as age, area of residence and diagnostic criteria.

These consultations informed the 10 recommendations outlined in the report, alongside research and recommendations from professionals in youth mental health and/or suicide prevention.

The recommendations include involving a diverse range of young people in design, delivery and evaluation, enhancing and supporting the role of schools in suicide prevention, and improving responses for young people at risk, such as increased outreach support and training emergency department staff and first responders.

WA Primary Health Alliance supported the project as part of the Australian Government’s National Suicide Prevention Trial in Perth South.

“Our focus with the Trial is to support young people aged 16 to 24 in a range of ways, ultimately to reduce the rate of suicide in the area,” Sharleen said.

“We have found so far that when young people, their community and leading organisations come together, we have the best outcomes, and this project is a great example of that.”

The Informing Youth Suicide Prevention for Western Australia project was a collaborative endeavour between Telethon Kids Institute, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Mercy Care, Mission Australia, WA Primary Health Alliance, Youth Focus and Youth Mental Health, North Metropolitan Mental Health Service.

Read the full report here.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

 In an emergency, call 000.