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Conversations Matter: World first for suicide prevention launched in Australia

Thursday, November 14, 2013

 

The NSW Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Kevin Humphries MP, today launched a world-first online community resource to guide safe and supportive conversations about suicide.

Conversations Matter has been developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, supported by the NSW Mental Health Commission, and funded under the NSW Suicide Prevention Strategy 2010-2015.

The NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley, said it was important to recognise the valuable role of individuals and the enormous capacity within the community to support people affected by suicide.

“In our community we all have an important role to play in understanding, preventing and responding to suicide, and in supporting those directly affected by suicide,” Mr Feneley said.

“With access to the practical information in Conversations Matter, people in the community can be empowered to talk about suicide in ways that break down stigma, increase understanding and support those thinking about suicide or affected by suicide,” he said.

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health developed Conversations Matter in partnership with suicide prevention organisations, government departments, academics, community organisations, people who have previously attempted or been bereaved by suicide, and community members in New South Wales and across Australia.

This first suite of online resources has been developed for all community members including individuals, families, schools, workplaces and local communities.

Available online and accessible on tablets and mobile devices, Conversations Matter supports one-on-one and group discussions. Each community resource is available on the Conversations Matter website in three different formats: an online presentation, fact sheet and audio podcast.

Director of the Hunter Institute, Jaelea Skehan said it was important to talk about suicide but that communities needed assistance to ensure the conversations were safe and effective.

“In many ways, talking about suicide is the same as talking about any important but sensitive issue. It is better to talk about it than to avoid it all together,” she said.

“However, there are some things we all need to know. We need to ensure that as a community, we are not ‘too afraid’ to talk about suicide, while making sure that the conversations we have are informed, safe and helpful.

“It is important that we empower communities to talk about this issue, but also important that we ensure that the suicide prevention sector is providing consistent advice so the messages can be reinforced.”

Further Conversations Matter community resources are currently being developed for specific groups and settings, including young people and Aboriginal communities. Resources will be available in early 2014 for professionals who need advice about how best to engage with and support communities to talk about suicide.

The Conversations Matter resources are available today at www.conversationsmatter.com.au