Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke with Owen Lyons, a Wiradjuri artist born in Narrandera who created the artwork “Waiting for the Sun” to help raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Communities across the State will have more mental health support than ever before under a new comprehensive strategy to begin NSW’s journey to zero suicides.

NSW Nationals MPs are encouraging people to reach out for help with almost $90 million set aside to deliver new suicide prevention initiatives as part of the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023.

“In June this year we held a forum in Cootamundra to feed the insights of locals and our local service providers and professionals directly into this framework,” Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said. “It’s fantastic to see the product of all this hard work and the recognition that circumstances vary in the bush to the city.

“The number of lives lost to suicide in NSW recently rose to 880, and the ripple effect of that loss simply cannot be put into words.

“That’s why the NSW Government has renewed and strengthened our commitment to giving individual communities, including ours, the capacity to prevent and respond to suicide.”

The Framework, launched at NSW Parliament House on Wednesday, will guide communities to improve the coordination of services across national, state and local levels, and between NSW Health and other service areas like education and transport.

“The tragic loss of life from suicide leaves families and communities devastated and we shouldn’t accept the current rates,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. “This announcement provides vital funding and better coordination between the various support providers and agencies to ensure no-one slips through the cracks.”

Communities at high risk of suicide will benefit from eight new or expanded initiatives from next year including:

• Aftercare services – ensuring all people who have been admitted to hospital following a suicide attempt have access to follow up care and support
• Emergency Department alternatives – to provide a more suitable alternative for people in crisis, such as designated ‘cafes’ with trained mental health workers at hand
• Zero Suicides in Care – strengthening practices within the mental health system to eliminate suicide attempts by people in care
• Expand community mental health outreach teams – to increase capacity to respond to calls to the NSW Mental Health hotline
• New support services for people bereaved by suicide – to prevent ‘clusters’ of further suicides, especially among young people.
• Resilience building within local communities – engage communities to participate in suicide prevention, with particular focus on Aboriginal communities
• Enhance the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program – to provide additional counsellors for people in regional and rural areas
• Improved collection and distribution of suicide data in NSW

Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 44 years.

The Framework has been developed by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and the NSW Ministry of Health in collaboration with; people with lived experience of a suicide attempt or suicide bereavement, government agencies, mental health organisations and experts in suicide prevention.

If you or someone you know needs crisis support please call Lifeline 13 11 14, MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78, or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800. For mental health services in Cootamundra phone the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.