Commonwealth response to 'The hidden toll: suicide in Australia'

3.3 Reducing access to means

Page last updated: 2010

Recommendation 25

6.132 The Committee recommends that the National Suicide Prevention Program include funding for projects to reduce access to means of suicide and prevention measures at identified 'suicide hotspots'. These interventions should be evidence based and in accordance with agreed guidelines.

Response

The Commonwealth Government supports this recommendation and has taken action to address it.

The Mental health: Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package includes:
  • $18.2 million over three years for additional support to Lifeline Australia to place dedicated 24/7 Lifeline Emergency Telephone booths at notable suicide 'hotspots' so that people who are thinking about suicide have on the spot help. This builds on Lifeline Australia's two telephones already in place at The Gap, which are funded by the Australian Government. These two lines are directed to a dedicated 24/7 crisis support helpline manned by appropriately trained counsellors. Lifeline has been receiving calls from The Gap crisis phones since March 2010; and

  • $9.0 million in capital funding over three years to improve safety and infrastructure at notable 'hotspots' by, for example, improving fencing barrier, night lighting and closed circuit television monitors.
In addition the Government is providing $1.1 million from the NSPP to support the Woollahra Council five pronged approach to suicide prevention at The Gap Park in Sydney. The Gap is a notorious hot spot for suicide. Building on previous infrastructure funding from the Australian Government, Woollahra Council will:
  • Erect barriers at well-known 'jump points' to restrict access;
  • Establish dedicated 'suicide patrols' of volunteers or paid counsellors to patrol 'hotspot' areas;
  • Train non-health staff to recognise people and situations of possible risk;
  • Place signs at and near hotspots urging people to contact crisis lines and install telephone access points; and
  • Work more closely with the media on the reporting of suicides.
The Government, on the advice of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, has commissioned a project to develop 'hot spots' guidelines for local government authorities and others with responsibility for infrastructure development. These will provide information on the evidence based and best practice methods in restricting access to known suicide 'hot spots' and how to prevent the creation of further hotspots through incorporating suicide prevention measures into infrastructure development, health and safety monitoring and environmental management practices. These guidelines are due in July 2011 and will inform the implementation of new Commonwealth initiatives including the $9 million Improving safety at 'hotspots' measure.