LifeSpan Newcastle suicide prevention strategy aims to build a "safety net" in Hunter with QPR training

Action: Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan, and State Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp. Picture: Simon McCarthy
Action: Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan, and State Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp. Picture: Simon McCarthy

SUICIDE cuts across every walk of life, and every socioeconomic divide.

It can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time.

But if the Hunter is armed with “ever-ready” community members who can step in to offer help to their friends, family, and colleagues, the LifeSpan Newcastle and Everymind team is confident it will help save lives.

Newcastle was the first of four trial sites in NSW for LifeSpan – an “all-of-community, all-of-health service, all-of-government response” to suicide prevention.

As part of LifeSpan’s overall strategy, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan said they were aiming to get 5 per cent of the Newcastle community trained in evidence-based suicide prevention techniques by June, 2019.

An online module called QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer – was a great place to start.

Much like CPR, the more people trained in QPR, the more lives that could be saved, Ms Skehan said.

“The more people who complete the training, the better chance we have that when a person is struggling, someone will notice, reach out to them and help the individual get the support they need,” Ms Skehan said.

Action: From left, Sharon Claydon MP, Tegan Cotterill from LifeSpan Newcastle, Dr June Anderson, of Lifeline, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan, and Tim Crakenthorp MP. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Action: From left, Sharon Claydon MP, Tegan Cotterill from LifeSpan Newcastle, Dr June Anderson, of Lifeline, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan, and Tim Crakenthorp MP. Picture: Simon McCarthy

“Most people who are doing it tough will talk to a family member or friend first, or they might give signs or indications to their family or friends, or their colleagues.

“It is really critical that we empower our community.

“We are inviting them to be part of the solution, part of building that safety net.”

The Herald is joining forces with LifeSpan to encourage the community to learn these suicide prevention skills via a series of stories called Let’s Talk Newcastle.

Editor Heath Harrison said he hoped the series would raise awareness of the important role the community could play in suicide prevention.

Action: Clockwise from left, Dr June Anderson, of Lifeline, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan, and Tim Crakenthorp MP,  Tegan Cotterill from LifeSpan Newcastle, and Sharon Claydon MP. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Action: Clockwise from left, Dr June Anderson, of Lifeline, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan, and Tim Crakenthorp MP, Tegan Cotterill from LifeSpan Newcastle, and Sharon Claydon MP. Picture: Simon McCarthy

“We are hopeful that we can get 2000 Herald readers to sign up and complete the QPR training,” he said.

Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, and State Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp, had encouraged their staff to train in QPR, as they often spoke to people in “great turmoil”.

“I would encourage all small businesses – people that do any customer service-related work – to get their staff trained up so they feel confident about knowing the questions to ask, and how to refer people on, because, ultimately, that’s looking after our community,” Ms Claydon said. “If enough of us are doing that, then we get to really nurture the whole of the community.”

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