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New approach to suicide prevention in NSW

AAP logoAAP 3/08/2016

A new integrated approach to suicide prevention combining school education programs, advanced training for psychologists and crisis teams is being implemented across NSW, with other states to follow soon.

It's hoped the LifeSpan model will reduce suicide deaths by at least 20 per cent and attempts by 30 per cent.

Described as a first for Australia, LifeSpan was developed by researchers at the Black Dog Institute and the federal government's National Health and Medical Research Council in partnership with clinicians, community organisations, indigenous health groups and people with lived experience of suicide and mental illness.

One of the nine evidence-based strategies key to the model includes building on a GP's capacity to detect the early onset of depression and at-risk patients.

Increasing mental health literacy, improving care after suicide attempts and frontline staff training are other strategies.

Lifespan will be rolled out in four NSW regions with high suicide rates - Newcastle, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Gosford/Wyong and the Murrumbidgee - from this week.

"The key to this program, and what makes it different to anything tried before, is the intensity of the interventions," says Professor Helen Christensen, director of Black Dog Institute.

"This is the first time we are implementing specially tailored and evidence-based strategies at the same time within local communities and we will be closely monitoring results in real time to ensure efficacy.

"The strength of the LifeSpan model is that it can be tailored and employed in any community," she said.

* If you are feeling distressed and in need of immediate assistance, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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