Community & Business

24 September, 2023

Tablelands new suicide prevention trial

A COMMUNITY touchpoint providing an immediate compassionate response for any person experiencing distress and who may be at heightened risk of suicide will be set up on the Tablelands.

Tablelands new suicide prevention trial - feature photo

One of only two new Distress Brief Support trials in Queensland will be established in the Tablelands region, which will include the compassionate response support, following the recent announcement of the Australian and Queensland Government jointly funded service.

While the Tablelands location is yet to be announced, the service will be codesigned to meet the local needs of North Queensland and will be delivered in partnership between Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS).

NQPHN Chief Executive Officer Robin Whyte said the announcement was good news for the Cairns and Hinterland region and would provide another level of much-needed support.

“Suicide prevention is a complex issue and given the diversity and geographic location of the NQPHN catchment, there is a real need for a service for anyone experiencing distress,” Ms Whyte said.

“A key priority for NQPHN is to encourage and promote a regional approach to suicide prevention, and we are proud to partner with Cairns and Hinterland HHS and the local communities to further address the health gaps in our region.”

Ms Whyte said the Distress Brief Support service would provide two types of support for anyone experiencing distress.

“The first tier of support is a community touchpoint who will provide an immediate compassionate response. The community touchpoints will then refer the person in distress to the Distress Brief Support short-term support team,” Ms Whyte said. 

“The service will provide up to 14 days of support with an aim to working through the underlying drivers of their distress, manage their distress, and support them to feel connected. 

“Support will also be provided to friends, family, and caregivers of those experiencing psychosocial distress to better equip their loved one.”

CHHHS Mental Health Clinical Director Mike Tervit said providing the Distress Brief Support service to the Tablelands region would allow local community members the benefit of remaining close to home, while receiving immediate support and understanding on how to effectively manage their distress and how and where to seek further help. 

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman recently announced Phase Two of the whole of government Every Life: The Queensland Suicide Prevention Plan 2019-2029, alongside $11.5 million to better support at-risk groups.

Phase Two of the plan has an increased focus on groups disproportionately impacted by suicide, including men, those from regional, rural and remote areas, First Nations people, and young people.

It highlights the need for earlier intervention in distress and vulnerability, and greater lived experience leadership in suicide prevention.

“Phase One of Every Life laid the foundation and Phase Two will continue to make prevention and reducing suicide a priority for government and for the community.”


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