Lifeline WA figures shed troubling light on suicides

Lifeline WA figures shed troubling light on suicides

TROUBLING new figures show Western Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, yet are about half as likely as other Australians to seek help though Lifeline’s crisis support services.

Lifeline WA chief executive Lorna MacGregor said that while 55,266 local calls were made to the charity’s 13 11 14 crisis line in 2015-16, only the equivalent of two per cent of West Australians sought help from Lifeline, compared to a national average of 3.5 per cent.

“Thousands more Western Australians are reaching out to our trained crisis supporters, but we also remain concerned that help-seeking behaviour in WA is lower than the national average,” Ms MacGregor said.

Statistics show that 14.4 people per 100 000 West Australians took their lives in our state in 2015-16.

In addition to phone support, Lifeline WA helped 14,880 people through its nightly online Crisis Support Chat service, a 15 per cent increase since last year.

“This indicates the deep isolation, anxiety and sadness experienced by many in our community,” Ms MacGregor said.

“We also know that, due to the stigma around mental ill-health, many more people are suffering in silence.”

Ms MacGregor met with Lifeline Australia chief executive Pete Shmigel in Perth earlier this month to discuss strategies to expand services and partnerships to reach more West Australians in crisis.

Lifeline WA’s community education workshops focusing on suicide prevention and recognising signs of mental ill-health in the workplace also showed an increase, with 3,124 people attending.

If organisations are interested in accessing practical skills and knowledge relating to mental illness in the workplace, they should contact Lifeline WA on 9261 4444.

Also this month, the State Government announced a total of $560,832 in grants to enable community organisations throughout Western Australia to conduct suicide prevention training.

Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell said the funding would target high-risk groups such as Aboriginal communities, people in regional areas, LGBTI populations, young people and culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

“This funding will make a significant contribution to strengthening the capacity of communities to help reduce the incidence of suicide, especially among groups that are particularly vulnerable,” she said.

“These grants include $296,521 for Aboriginal communities and service providers to train people to support family, friends and community members to recognise and help people who may be experiencing a mental health emergency or are having suicidal thoughts.

“The remaining $264,311 has been awarded for suicide prevention training for other high-risk groups.”

For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit Lifeline.