Community urged to take on responsibility for suicide prevention

COMMUNITY FOCUSED: Peta Dampney is a lived experience representative on the LifeSpan project. Picture: Ryan Osland

COMMUNITY FOCUSED: Peta Dampney is a lived experience representative on the LifeSpan project. Picture: Ryan Osland

Peta Dampney believes suicide prevention is a community responsibility.

The Newcastle mother is a lived experience representative on the LifeSpan project, which is an evidence-based approach to suicide prevention supported by the Black Dog Institute.

Newcastle is a trial site for the new program, which officially begins next month.

Ms Dampney will speak at a community forum being held at Lifeline Hunter Central Coast, Islington on March 22 to discuss how people with lived experience of suicide can contribute to suicide prevention in Newcastle.

The forum will include speakers with lived experience of suicide as well as representatives from local health and community services that work in suicide prevention in Newcastle. 

Information will also be offered on the suicide prevention work already occurring in Newcastle and how members of the community can get involved.

“This community forum is very much about emphasising the different community resources that are out there and giving people the courage to talk about it more,” Ms Dampney said.

“One of the particular strategies of LifeSpan is training people up to be what they call LifeSpan champions.

“A LifeSpan champion isn’t a mental health professional, it’s anyone who has a role in the community, so it’s emphasising if you’re a teacher or you work with the local footy club that you’ve very much got an active role in suicide prevention.”

According to LifeSpan, In 2014, 2864 Australians died by suicide and suicide rates have not declined over the past decade. Statistics show they may instead be rising.

“Suicide isn’t a health or a mental health problem, it’s a social problem ... and just viewing it as a health or mental illness diminishes the role of responsibility that we all have,” Ms Dampney said.

“If you can listen, if you can talk, then you can have a role in it.”

More information: Lauren.Barnett@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au. 

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