Authors: Anita McRae, Robyn Manzie, Christopher Rainbow, Peter Baldwin, Warwick Hosking, Grant Blashki, Philip Batterham, Madison Blackburn
Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference
Subject: suicide prevention, peer work,
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: LEAD PRESENTATION: An Integrated and Regional Approach to Suicide Prevention and Aftercare
Anita McRae, Robyn Manzie
In response to a high number of suicides in a short timeframe late 2018, Murrumbidgee PHN (MPHN) and headspace National pulled stakeholders together to understand the current suicide prevention landscape, any gaps and areas of focus to support an integrated and regional approach to suicide prevention and aftercare. Previously prevention activities were unplanned and reactive and responses to suicide events and critical incidents were often uncoordinated and didn’t occur in a timely manner. A Local Response Group (LRG) was formed comprising of NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, MPHN and WellWays. The LRG is a small group of key agencies who are connected to communities and have a key role in providing support.
A Communications and Response Protocol was developed to provide an overarching framework for LRG activities and identifies the broader network of partners we work with in suicide prevention activities and to ensure appropriate and comprehensive responses.
The partnerships with local, state and national agencies and our communities have all been critical for our now well-established suicide prevention and aftercare approach.
We would like to share the evolvement of our model which required reflection, refinement and building in sustainability so a complex system is made easier for our communities.
PANEL PRESENTATION: The 'Abstainer' Question: Alcohol Consumption and Suicidal Ideation in Australian Online Help-seekers
Christopher Rainbow, Peter Baldwin, Warwick Hosking, Grant Blashki, Philip Batterham
The 'abstainer effect' refers to a pattern observed in research whereby higher levels of depression and anxiety are observed in both high-risk alcohol consumers and abstainers, when compared to social drinkers. Limited research has examined whether there is an abstainer effect for suicidal ideation, and potential risk factors that may drive it. Using latent profile analysis, this study included 1,561 visitors to the Beyond Blue website who elected to complete an online psychological distress screener (K10) and additional questions about alcohol use, suicidal ideation, help-seeking intent, financial wellbeing, thwarted belongingness, and perceived burdensomeness. The analysis uncovered three profiles of visitors whose level of suicidal ideation (SI) could be distinguished by their alcohol consumption patterns.
These profiles included: (1) low SI/low alcohol; (2) high SI/low alcohol; (3) high SI/high alcohol. This presentation will break down differing demographic and psychosocial characteristics of these profiles, with the aim of enhancing early intervention opportunities. While the connections between heavy alcohol consumption and suicide risk are well recognised, the findings of this study suggest that abstention patterns are also worthy of attention, as they could indicate underlying psychosocial concerns that a person at risk is reluctant to disclose.
PANEL PRESENTATION: Suicide Prevention and Lived Experience: Integration of Peer Workers to Service Provision
In 2020, on behalf of Beyond Blue, Wellways trialled the incorporation of Peer Workers with lived/living experience of suicidality in the Way back Service model. Feedback from participants who have engaged with a Peer Worker confirms there is an important role for lived/living experience to play in suicide prevention and aftercare services. The evaluation of Peer Support in TWBSS identified that the presence of a Peer Worker at the initial meeting between the participant and support coordinator led to increased likelihood of uptake of TWBSS.
Crucial components of peer work, reported by participants and Peer Workers, was the ability of Peer Workers to utilise their lived/living experience of suicidality to build rapport with participants. The relationship built with participants through experiential sharing led to positive outcomes for participants, including increased longevity of involvement in the program and high degrees of satisfaction with the service.
Providing peer support also benefits Peer Workers from a mentor perspective. According to Peer Workers, supporting participants through a similar experience provides a platform for advocacy, an opportunity for reflection on one’s own mental health journey, and provides peer workers with a sense of fulfilment through experiential sharing to help others through a similar journey.