A Case Study: Alternatives to Suicide Community Based Support Groups

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

Joining us at the conference is Mr Richard O'Flaherty, Peer Support Counsellor at The Station Community Mental Health Centre Inc. Who will present on ‘A Case Study: Alternatives to Suicide Community Based Support Groups’.


The Station Community Mental Health Centre Inc. is a community based, not for profit organisation, designed to help residents of the Yorke Peninsula area of South Australia, recovering from or caring for someone with a mental illness. The local council provides the premises at nominal rent. The Station currently has a core group of 20 active volunteers and 72 members.

January 2018 saw a spike in disclosed Suicidal Ideation amongst membership to nearly 20%.

Existing Responses to Suicide Rural and Remote: 
Even with additional resources of hiring a peer support counsellor and attending Black Dog Institute Advanced Suicide Prevention training workshop, responses are limited to “here is a leaflet with phone numbers and online resources” to calling the emergency service “ambulance and police”. To further, complicate matters for those who are willing to agree to an inpatient clinical approach, such does not exist in the regional and remote hospitals and so the person must be further traumatised and sent to an urban psychiatric centre such as Glenside S.A. Simultaneously removing that person from all sources of family and community support.

Alternative Responses:
The Station Alternatives to Suicide Support Groups: Centers on mentors/facilitators with a lived experience of Suicidal Ideation and a willingness to disclose this in a peer group environment. A strong emphasis on a non-clinical community-based intervention. Core Group Values including suicidal thoughts are not a mental illness. This paper is a case study of shared learning experience undertaken by the first group of mentors and co-authored by all members of this group. This paper will present The Station Alt2Sui Support Group Model. The roadmap to building a support group. The Manual developed by the group. Evidence of the acceptance and implementation of the Alt2Sui Support Group Model and Manual by an indigenous community and prison community.

Key Learnings:
1. Myths around suicide
2. Warning signs
3. Group support


Richard O’Flaherty Experience: Mr. O’Flaherty is a registered counsellor with the Australian Counselling Association and has over 15 years’ experience working with organisations and community groups in areas of adult education, health awareness and social-emotional wellbeing. Having worked in Europe Mr. O’Flaherty brings an international perspective to the group. Mr O’Flaherty has been a member of The Station since 2015 and has acted in a voluntary capacity as men’s group facilitator as well as Secretary. Mr O’Flaherty is currently under contract to The Station to provide Peer Support Counselling Services. Qualifications: Dip. Couns., Dip. Edu & Train., B.A. (Hons)

For more information on the 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium and to secure early bird discounted rates currently on offer please visit anzmh.asn.au/rrmh

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