Lifeline Central West welcomes involvement in new suicide prevention framework development

Role for everyone: Lifeline Central West chief Alex Ferguson (right) with Black Dog Ride Dubbo/ NSW coordinator Wayne Amor raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Role for everyone: Lifeline Central West chief Alex Ferguson (right) with Black Dog Ride Dubbo/ NSW coordinator Wayne Amor raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Signs that a new framework to tackle suicide will recognise that different communities face unique mental health challenges have encouraged an organisation at the coalface in western NSW.

Lifeline Central West chief Alex Ferguson reiterated during a visit to Dubbo that one size did not fit all in dealing with the issue.

He confirmed the organisation would be a “keen participant” as the NSW government works to reduce the rate of suicide across the state.

As she announced the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW, NSW Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies said it would help communities face mental health challenges unique to their area.

“We need to ensure no matter who you are or where you live that you’re getting the right help at the right time,” Mrs Davies said.

Mr Ferguson said approaches in an urban environment and in western NSW where there was the “tyranny of distance” were totally different.

“So that is an absolutely astounding breakthrough in thinking because once we do that, we can start to recognise the problems related to isolation,” he said.

“The problems related to men predominantly on farms thinking too much because they have too much time by themselves.”

The existence of “decaying towns and communities” where people no longer met and played bowls and went to clubs because the facilities did not exist anymore was one factor Mr Ferguson highlighted.

The declining number of saleyards had also decreased opportunities to meet, he observed.

“These are all changes, and there’s nothing wrong with the changes on the face of them, the changes are problematic when you look at the effect on humans working and adapting to those changed circumstances,” he said.

“These are big issues, and it’s really good to see them starting to get the airplay and it’s really good to start to see people recognise that there’s a role for everybody and most particularly in that early stage of a conversation.”

Individuals and organisations can have their say by completing an online survey before April 15, or by attending a community consultation at Dubbo on April 4-5.