People affected by mental illness are at far higher risk of ending their own lives than others.
That's why suicide prevention is integral to all of SANE Australia's activities, from development of resources through to staff training, and special projects too.
Mental Illness + Bereavement Project
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Suicide or being a missing person has a profound effect on others, especially when mental illness is involved. In fact, research suggests that friends and family who are bereaved in this way are more likely to die by suicide themselves.
A new SANE Australia project has been established to tackle this issue, helping to improve the capacity of those bereaved to cope, and to help reduce their risk of becoming suicidal.
An essential first step was consultation with those affected and organisations working in the area, including the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre and peak mental health and bereavement services around Australia.
Based on what was learned during the consultations, the project has developed a suite of resources and training, including:
- Bereavement Guidelines – for mental health and other services
- Mental Illness + Bereavement Kit - A resource for health professionals so they can better support the families and friends of people with mental illness who die by suicide.
- Workshops – to improve the capacity of health services' staff to help the bereaved
- Factsheets – Practical information and guidance for those bereaved and their family and friends. Visit the Factsheets area to download copies to use yourself.
As part of the of the project, SANE will continue to develop and deliver these resources and expand their distribution to the private mental health sector, coronial services, and the police.
SANE is now planning the next stage of the project, where we are working on a scoping study to explore the suicide prevention practices utilised by the mental health sector more broadly, including both government and non-government organisations. We will examine existing suicide prevention/intervention initiatives, training opportunities for staff and existing policies and any gaps in the current approach. This will form the basis of guidelines for mental health services with a checklist to ensure they are doing everything possible to prevent suicide in a holistic manner (including supporting those who are bereaved).
The Mental Illness + Bereavement Project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The SANE Guide to Staying Alive has been developed for people with a mental illness who experience suicidal thoughts, with information and useful hints from people who have 'been there' themselves, as well as carers and health professionals. The Guide provides advice from all these experts on dealing with these thoughts, preparing for times when you have them, and making plans with others on how to get help if you feel you might attempt suicide. More >>
Reducing stigma and misunderstanding about mental illness is an integral part of SANE’s suicide prevention work. There is evidence that suicide rates are much higher in the early stages of illness, and stigma discourages people from seeking the help they need at this crucial time. By reducing stigma through its StigmaWatch and community education programs, SANE encourages people to talk about their illness and seek help early.
Help at the end of the line
As calls to the SANE 1800 Helpline increase in number, so do the number of calls from people worried that they, or someone they know, may try to end their life. As well as the usual rigorous orientation, then, all SANE Helpline staff receive specialist training in procedures for handling suicide-related calls, and also have debriefing available after such calls. Call 1800 18 SANE (7263) or contact the Helpline Online.
Get the facts
A suite of SANE Factsheets are available on this website giving the facts about suicide in Australia, how to get help if you are feeling suicidal, and - importantly - how to help someone else if you fear they may be thinking of ending their life. More >>