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Black Dog Institute welcomes NSW government’s $90m mental health investment

The Black Dog Institute has welcomed the NSW government’s release of the Suicide Prevention Framework

The Black Dog Institute has welcomed the NSW government’s $90 million commitment to suicide prevention, including a pledge to reduce the number of deaths in care.

The Suicide Prevention Framework will support evidence-based tactics in an integrated system that focuses on community action and priority populations. It will provide a space for aftercare for those who have attempted suicide and improve data collection.

Director of Discovery and Innovation at the Black Dog Institute, Nicole Cockayne, said the Framework’s goal of reducing suicides in care to zero is “admirable” and added that the foundation would continue to introduce tools aimed at achieving this.

“With the right tools, we believe that hospitals can reduce in-patient suicides to zero,” Cockayne said. She added that the Black Dog Institute is trialling a wearable back-to-base device to assist in-patient monitoring in psychiatric intensive care units.

“It is essential that we research and trial new and innovative methods, so we can build the evidence-base and improve care,” Cockayne said.

The trial is supported by international evidence and is being trialled through the Black Dog Institute’s LifeSpan project, Australia’s largest scientific suicide prevention trial. It is underway in four sites – Central Coast, Illawarra, Murrumbidgee and Newcastle.

“We know that care in hospitals, including emergency departments and aftercare, is critical to reducing further suicide attempts,” Cockayne said.

This comes as the Productivity Commission commits to an inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy as the Morrison government looks to find better value from the $9 billion – or $1 million every hour – a year spent on mental wellbeing.

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Health Minister, Greg Hunt, asked the commission to examine “whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money” and how to improve economic and social participation with people who are struggling.

The need for this improved data is vital to reducing suicide rates and addressing one of the most complex public health issues in Australia. In 2017, 3,128 Australians took their own lives, which is a 9 per cent increase on 2016.

Cockayne said the funding to improve data collection and distribution of techniques is welcome, but will need to be taken further to prevent suicide deaths.

“Through our LifeSpan trial, Black Dog Institute is working hard with organisations like SAS and Australian National University to develop a comprehensive data system, in line with international best practice,” Cockayne said.

“The development of this type of suicide prevention data system requires significant investment to enable the extensive analysis and interpretation required. While improved data collection and distribution is positive and we see this as a great start, it is the timeliness of this data and turning it into actionable insights that will make all the difference.”

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au

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