headspace launches suicide postvention service

A new program has been launched by headspace and the Commonwealth Government to help secondary schools affected by suicide.

headspace School Support will assist secondary government, private and independent schools to respond to and manage a suicide related crisis, mitigating distress to staff and students and minimising the risk of further tragedies.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 113 young people aged 15 to 19 died by suicide in 2010. headspace CEO Chris Tanti said that for every young person who dies by suicide, significantly more are negatively affected.

"The trauma and impact of a suicide is enormous. There's the devastating impact on immediate and extended family and friends, but there are also ramifications for the wider community that need to be assessed and managed," said Mr Tanti.

Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler said headspace School Support staff are now in the seven states and territories to provide direct support to secondary schools and surrounding communities affected by suicide or concerned about students at risk.

"We know that 1 in 4 young people will experience a mental health issue this year but three-quarters of these aren't receiving the professional help they need."

"Suicide is the single largest cause of death among young Australians so we've got to make sure young people at risk are connected with the right services."

The service will provide assistance and coordination for staff, students, families and the broader community in the short and longer term.

It will also help prepare schools in the event they need to respond to a suicide-related crisis, delivering ongoing resources and facilitate training for school staff to identify students at risk.

Mr Tanti said headspace School Support will complement existing programs and build on current capacity and skills of school staff.

"We know that every school community will be different, with unique circumstances and needs. We also know that every teacher is aware of the mental health needs of their students. So we've made sure the program is flexible and able to deliver the support needed in whatever configuration is appropriate."

"An important role of our teams will be to help strengthen the relationships between schools and their local networks so they can work together, easily facilitating referrals and drawing on support when needed."

"They'll also work closely with our headspace centres across the country and our online and telephone service, eheadspace. Ultimately we are hoping that we can bridge the gap between these service offerings in the hope that all young people in need are supported," said Mr Tanti.

The headspace School Support teams are located at existing headspace centres:

  • New South Wales - headspace Central Coast (Gosford)
  • Victoria - headspace Southern Melbourne (Elsternwick)
  • Queensland - headspace Townsville
  • Western Australia - headspace Perth (North Perth)
  • Northern Territory - headspace Darwin (Palmerston)
  • Tasmania - headspace Hobart
  • South Australia - headspace Adelaide Northern (Elizabeth)

For more information on headspace School Support visit www.headspace.org.au/schoolsupport

For more information about headspace or to access help visit headspace.org.au