The Suicide Prevention Program (SPP) is an Australian Government Department of Health funded program dedicated to universal (population-wide health approaches) and targeted suicide prevention activities for groups identified at heightened risk of suicide. Under the Annual Plan with the Australian Government, the aims and objectives of the SPP will be achieved through the funding of relevant activities that aim to:
- promote help seeking behaviour and positive lifestyle choices
- promote local responses to suicide and other related issues within communities
- facilitate greater networks between service providers and local communities
- contribute to the development of local community capacity to address these issues
- facilitate access by communities around Australia to appropriate service providers.
The LIFE Framework (2007) is a national suicide prevention framework in Australia aimed at reducing the loss of life through suicide through eight action areas and based on the following guiding principles: that all activities will first, do no harm; that there will be community ownership and responsibility for action to prevent suicide; and that service delivery will be client-centred. It is also assumed that systematic evaluation will be undertaken of all suicide prevention projects, activities and programs to contribute to the continued development of best practice
The focus of the Suicide Prevention Program is towards improving community strength, resilience and capacity in suicide prevention (Action Area 3 of the Life Framework for Action) and providing targeted suicide prevention activities (Action Area 5 of the Life Framework for Action).
National Suicide Prevention Programs in the Northern Territory
An integral part of NT PHN role in suicide prevention is to specifically identify and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within their region that are at heightened risk of suicide, and support the implementation of culturally based suicide prevention activity guided by the goals and actions of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.
It is intended that this specific focus on suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be developed in an integrated way as a combined effort with the new funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and additional funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug and alcohol services. This is expected to increase access to culturally sensitive, integrated mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
Overall suicide rates in the Northern Territory continue to be notably higher than for the general Australian population. As outlined in the 2012 report Gone too Soon, produced by a Select Committee of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, the youth suicide rate in the NT is three and a half times the national average. Further, Indigenous suicide rates are considerably higher than for the general Australian population. Considerably more focused and culturally-secure work is required in order to reduce this disparity.
Many factors contribute to the higher rate of suicide in the NT including the remote and extremely remote nature of much of the population, a low availability of psychosocial support in many areas and the high percentage of people who fall into high risk categories. Ongoing efforts are required to reduce the impact and counter these contributing factors.
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