Strengthening Communities for Future Generations: Initiatives for Youth Suicide Prevention

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held next week over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Ms Narelle Corless, Program Manager – headspace in Schools at Headspace who will present on ‘Strengthening Communities for Future Generations: Initiatives for Youth Suicide Prevention’.

Abstract

Suicide is a complex issue. Increasing rates of suicide deaths in Australia mirror the high rates of self-harm and suicide attempts among young people. Many suicide attempts and thoughts go unreported, making it difficult to estimate the extent that young people think about or attempt suicide. In the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 7.5 per cent of 12–17-year olds reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months and 2.4 per cent had made an attempt. This equates to approximately 41,000 Australian adolescents.

Researchers, experts and young people suggest that responding to suicide among young people requires a different approach than for other age groups. Responding early to both suicide risk and mental ill-health in young people could provide the most effective suicide prevention approach. Recognising and supporting a young person could greatly improve their mental health and life outcomes. Strategies such as building capacity in young people, their families and service providers; promoting help seeking and strengthening connections in communities could reduce the number of young people attempting suicide.

Drawing on this approach and building on experience and knowledge from working with schools and communities since 2011, headspace in Schools is implementing national initiatives funded by the Australian Government. Two of these initiatives will focus on rural, regional and remote communities. Special emphasis will be young people who are at higher risk of suicide and suicide attempts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, LGBTIQ and CALD young people.

These two initiatives are National Suicide Attempt and Risk Seminars and Self-harm and Suicide Prevention Training Packages.
The benefits of the initiatives include engaging young people, their families, PHNs, headspace centres and schools; strengthening community partnerships; and building community knowledge to assist identification of at-risk young people and ultimately reduce suicide attempts and suicides.

Key Learnings:
1. Early intervention can prevent suicide
2. Suicide prevention in young people requires different strategies to other age groups
3. Communities can be strengthened through knowledge and connection

Biography

Narelle works for headspace, National Youth Mental Health Foundation. She is the Program Manager of “Schools Suicide Prevention and Self Harm Minimisation Activities”, a national program in the headspace in Schools division. Narelle has worked with headspace since 2016. She has worked with regional and rural communities in roles including Child & Adolescent Mental Health Practitioner with NSW Department of Health, School Counsellor in NSW primary & secondary schools and Case Manager in Adolescent Foster Care. Narelle has presented at several national and state conferences, including the Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium in 2016 and SPA 2016.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium please visit anzmh.asn.au/rrmh