Stop suicide | Prevention community network to form

NARACOORTE and Lucindale will establish a suicide prevention community network after the issue received overwhelming support at a community forum on Tuesday night.

Principal project officer for suicide prevention from the office of the chief psychiatrist, mental health and substance abuse Lynne James (front) was the facilitator of the forum, offering her insight along with panel members (from left): Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery, mental health advocate The Honourable John Dawkins MLC, Lifeline SE chief officer Eve Barrett and visiting psychiatrist Dr Warwick Black.

Principal project officer for suicide prevention from the office of the chief psychiatrist, mental health and substance abuse Lynne James (front) was the facilitator of the forum, offering her insight along with panel members (from left): Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery, mental health advocate The Honourable John Dawkins MLC, Lifeline SE chief officer Eve Barrett and visiting psychiatrist Dr Warwick Black.

Over 100 community members, of all ages and backgrounds, underlined the growing focus on suicide prevention by attending the forum at the Naracoorte Town Hall.

They heard presentations from network facilitator Lynne James, politician and mental health advocate John Dawkins, psychiatrist Warwick Black, Lifeline SE chief officer Eve Barrett and Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery on what can be done and how a network would function. A suicide prevention network ties in with the Naracoorte Lucindale Council's strategic plan for a healthy and resilient community.

With the town and district impacted by suicide in recent times, the establishing of a network was seen as an important step towards helping those affected and preventing more lives being lost.

Ms James spoke about similar networks at national and State level but said it was important any network established was tailored to the local area.

"The local knowledge in your community is critical," she said.

"Because the community has a knowledge of how your community works.

"You know what local needs are and what resources are available to help them."

There are a number of similar networks around the country with the same goal - to develop an action plan. SA Health facilitates networks in Mount Gambier, Clare and Gilbert Valley, Gawler, Murray Bridge, Playford and Whyalla with a diverse community membership. "The broader the network is the better it is," Ms James said.

Usually SA Health facilitates monthly meetings for six months to discuss local issues to be addressed and engage in the development of the action plan.

But Ms James said a local network would be fast-tracked with fortnightly meetings "so Naracoorte can progress to an action plan a lot faster".

The network would help identify what resources are available and what is needed - using community knowledge to educate about suicide, reduce the stigma around it and work on prevention and postvention strategies.

"Everyone can make a difference," Ms James said.

Lifeline SE chief officer Eve Barrett also spoke, representing the Mount Gambier Suicide Prevention Network which was started in 2004. She stressed that she was not presenting Mount Gambier as a template.

"It's important to know your community," Ms Barrett said. "You are the community, you can have an impact."

Ms Barrett said everyone in the community had a role to play in establishing a network. "If you want to go fast, go alone," she said. "If you want to go far, go together."

A further meeting will be held on August 25 from 2-4pm (venue to be announced) to continue to establish the network with anyone interested in joining the network invited to attend.

Mayor Vickery said she was "heartened" by the response to the forum.

"Our community was deeply hurt (by suicide) earlier this year," she said.

"It is important we as a community stand together and see what we can do.

"I am so pleased to see so many people here."

The network isn't the only project addressing suicide in the planning for the local district. The council has been working on a breakfast event with local service clubs called "Out of the shadows and into the light" which is scheduled for September 6 near the north parklands and swimming lake.

A pamphlet titled "How to get mental health support in Naracoorte and surrounds" has also been released, compiled with the assistance of the council and other health and well-being service providers. A Menswatch program - targeting men in the district - is also slated for the first three weeks of October.

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