The 2nd Western NSW Regional Suicide Prevention Forum was hosted by Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) in Dubbo on Tuesday May 4th and Wednesday May 5th.
Bringing together speakers with local, national, and international expertise, WNSW PHN Acting CEO, Robert Strickland, says the event was a great success.
“The forum really is about bringing together our local suicide prevention workforce to network and build connections while hearing about the work of national organisations and international research in this vital area of health,” said Mr Strickland.
“This ability to connect with others working in suicide prevention while accessing new learnings and insights in such a setting is a very powerful catalyst in contributing to the effectiveness of the regional plan.”
He added, “While the forum last year could not go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the feedback we received in 2019 and again following this year’s event has highlighted the importance of this type of event for our region.”
Approximately 80 people from a range of organisations and communities across our region attended. They were provided with new insights and perspectives and have reported a reinvigorated passion for their work in suicide prevention as a result of the forum.
Guest speakers at the forum included Leilani Darwin of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Unit at the Black Dog Institute, Immie Wijaratne of SANE Australia, Associate Professor Simon Rosenbaum of the University of NSW.
They were joined by a range of local speakers such as Superintendent Andrew Hurst of the NSW Police Central North Police District, Martin Davis from the Western NSW Local Health District, Sue Hackney from WNSW PHN and representatives from local services funded to undertake suicide prevention work.
There were also several presentations from different volunteer Community Suicide Prevention Networks based in various towns across the region.
Topics covered during the two-day event included the lived experience of suicide of First Nations peoples, the stigma of suicide and mental health, the benefits of exercise for mental health and how to start a conversation with someone you are worried about and services to support families and communities after a death has occurred. Workshop discussions focussed on identifying the priorities to include in the Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention plans being jointly developed by the PHN and the Western NSW and Far West Local Health Districts.
Anyone who is experiencing personal difficulties, or has concerns for a loved one, is encouraged to seek help via specialised mental health services, including Lifeline, on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue, on 1300 22 4636 or by visiting beyondblue.org.au.