Suicide Prevention

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (14:29): During the last week of sitting, I had the opportunity to update the council on some of the important work going on in this area following World Suicide Prevention Day on the Tuesday and before R U OK? Day two days later. Will the minister update the council on recent developments in suicide prevention?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:29): I thank the honourable member for his question. I again recognise that the Hon. Mr Dawkins has been a long-term, passionate advocate for suicide prevention, and I welcome his continued energy in this area of public policy. As the honourable member points out, we have recently commemorated Suicide Prevention Week and R U OK? Day. Although it is a relatively recent initiative, R U OK? Day already enjoys wide support.

The Marshall Liberal government has a key focus on suicide prevention. We have committed $2.5 million over four years to support suicide prevention networks. Building on this investment, at the start of this month the Marshall Liberal government partnered with the Morrison Liberal government to support the rollout of the Way Back Support Service here in South Australia. The Way Back Support Service is an initiative of beyondblue, specifically designed to provide suicide prevention support to people who have previously attempted suicide and have been discharged from hospital. The Morrison and Marshall Liberal governments have jointly committed $2 million to roll out this service in South Australia.

Suicide is a complex area, demanding a range of responses depending on the individual and their own personal circumstances. In particular, the months following a suicide attempt is a time when people are vulnerable and most in need of support. This is the space in which the Way Back Support Service will provide personalised care to South Australians. The commitment of commonwealth and state funds will allow a support coordinator from the service directly to contact clients referred to the service to guide them through the time following their suicide attempt or crisis and discharge from hospital. The program is tailored to meet individual needs. It provides a range of services, including help accessing clinical care during periods of increased risk and referrals to community-based counselling services.

Today, we received a national update on suicide. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on causes of death found that the national suicide rate has come down from 12.7 deaths by suicide per 100,000 of the population to 12.2. Closer to home, and a tribute to the efforts of so many people in this field, the South Australian suicide rate has also dropped from 12.8 deaths by suicide per 100,000 of the population to 12. It is now below the national rate, I understand, for the first time in a decade. I particularly welcome the significant decrease in suicide in country South Australia. But there is still more to be done.

Initiatives such as Suicide Awareness Week and R U OK? Day have helped many Australians to realise that an important primary response to suicide prevention is compassionate listening and response and increased connection. While the Way Back Support Service provides support to people in a more targeted way, we can all offer basic support to people in our lives who might need to hear the question, 'Are you okay?' I encourage all South Australians today and every day to think about their families, friends and acquaintances and to have conversations with them to make sure they are okay.