Enhancing Suicide Prevention on R U OK? & World Suicide Prevention Day

Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day, the Australian Government is officially launching vital suicide prevention aftercare services in six states and territories, as well as providing a further $19 million to extend leading national suicide prevention services.

Suicide prevention is a key priority for the Australian Government. In 2018, 3,046 Australians lost their lives to suicide. Each death is a national tragedy and has a devastating effect on friends, families and communities.

This year, World Suicide Prevention Day recognises our shared responsibility for suicide prevention and urges us to engage with others and join together to spread awareness.

I encourage all Australians to take a minute to think about mental health and how they and the people around them are coping with life's demands.

It is ok to talk about suicidality, and to assist others reach out for support. Our Government is investing in a range of innovative programmes to make sure that help is available.

One of these programmes is the Way Back Support Service. This initiative, delivered by Beyond Blue, offers vital follow up contact and assistance to people for several months after a suicide attempt or suicidal crisis.

People who have self-harmed or attempted suicide are among the most at risk of dying by suicide. Non-clinical care during this vulnerable time is effective in reducing suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

To support The Way Back, the Australian Government has committed $44.6 million over four years, matched by states and territories, to deliver the service in selected regions across Australia.

The Government has now signed bilateral agreements with the ACT, Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria, making the service available in six states and territories. We are continuing to engage with the other jurisdictions.

To further ensure that services and support are available to all Australians, an extra $19 million will be provided for 18 projects, to continue their work as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding, through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, will sustain important support, awareness and stigma reduction activities, research, and leadership until June 2022. This announcement brings the total investment in the programme to over $100 million.

Under the program, organisations such as the OzHelp Foundation and MATES in Construction, are funded to provide training and support to higher risk populations, building wellbeing and resilience in workplaces across Australia.

With so much change and so many challenges this year, the work of organisations like OzHelp and MATES is Construction is critical to supporting mental health and preventing suicide.

Also among the organisations receiving funding though the program is R U OK? Ltd.

R U OK? Day is a day when Australians are asked to connect and have conversations about their wellbeing. In recognition of this year's theme of "there is more to say after R U OK?", Australians are also all encouraged to follow up on the initial question, to reach out to someone who looks like they may need help.

Like many of our other activities, R U OK? Day will look different this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Whether through technology or in person, we can still connect and show we care, in our friendship or family groups, workplaces, schools and community.

As well as urging Australians to reach out to others, I encourage anyone going through tough times to reach out for help, whether in person, through telehealth or a phone or online services.

To ensure that help is available when it is needed, the Australian Government has committed more than $500 million for expanded mental health services since January this year. This builds on record funding for mental health, expected to reach an estimated $5.7 billion this year alone.

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline

(13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government's digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or on their website.

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