When a suicide occurs in a rural or remote area, it can have a profound impact on the whole community. Many may not know what to do or how to help, and may cause people to have their own mental health battles.
The National Suicide Prevention Trial took place in 12 Australian regions from 2016-17 and 2020-21. The trial aimed to develop and implement a system-based approach in creating local and long-term change when suicide occurs.
Break O'Day was one of the three locations as part of the Tasmanian component of the nationwide trial. Other Tasmanian locations included Launceston and the North West, combining Burnie, Devonport and the Central Coast.
Wendy French, a master instructor of mental health first aid and developed a framework for the Community Suicide Response Plan, following the completion of the trial.
"The region has had its fair share of suicide in the past and they haven't always known where to turn for support as a community," Mrs French said.
"The framework has been developed to allow the community to recognise the existing resources and to utilise them in a coordinated way to ensure people can get access to the help they need.
"This is vital for the community, as it's about getting the right help when its needed most."
Break O'Day implemented a Community Suicide Response Plan, which features a committee of key stakeholders that met within 24 hours of a suicide.
As a part of this plan a committee meets bi-monthly and consists of members of police, emergency services, the education department, neighbourhood centres, hospitals, sporting and social groups. The committee meets after a suicide to determine what are of the community is in most urgent need of support, and what kind of support is required.
"When a tragedy happens we see the coming together of these stakeholders," Mrs French said.
"We have been lucky recently in that we have had the need to call the emergency committee meeting, which is wonderful. We hope that we never have to call the committee and get together as that means we have lost someone in the community, which is devastating.
"We are prepared in case something awful like that happens and we have protocols in place to deal with the situation as a community."
Community Suicide Response Plan group will also be running community workshops to inform the Break O'Day community about everything from psychological to practical living support.
These can include things that are not often considered for families after experiencing a suicide such as transport, grocery shopping, animal minding, support with paperwork and phone calls and social connection.
Mrs French said that a plan like this should be in place in every community.
"This is vital, I wish there was something like this put in place all across Tasmania and the country," she said.
"It's a method of empowering the community when they need help.
"Suicides can create isolation and we want people to know that there are people that care and are there for them in a time of unthinkable hardship."
Free community workshops will be held at Fingal Valley on November 26 and in St Helens on December 6. For further information or to register email email@example.com or call 6376 1134.
- Lifeline 13 11 14
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