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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 June 2017) . . Page.. 1886 ..

The National Mental Health Commission believes the biggest risk factor for a completed suicide is a previous attempt. They draw this from international evidence that, for people who seek hospital emergency department treatment following a suicide attempt, one in six attempts is followed by another within the following 12 months. This sobering and confronting information highlights to me that, alongside the need for a strong mental health support system made up of clinical health practitioners, support workers, acute inpatient care and strong crisis services, there is more that the government needs to consider. It is also the best possible argument for increased prevention and postvention services that can be made, as it relates to saving lives.

A recent study into suicide undertaken by ACT Health reveals strong themes and issues worthy of greater consideration: the impacts of social inclusion and exclusion; the importance of family and friends; the effects of unemployment or underemployment; and that hard to define, deeply personal and unfortunately sometimes tragically elusive sense of hope that can carry us through the dark. It is the government’s commitment to reduce suicide wherever possible. While it will take some time to work through the development of reduction targets and of associated renewal of suicide prevention strategies, in consultation with the community sector, we continue to expand both the services offered by ACT community mental health and the nature of services provided by our non-government sector partners.

We continue to fund a dedicated suicide postvention service pilot for the ACT that offers wraparound supports to all people affected by suicide attempts for up to three months post hospital admission. We are working with national leaders in this space to integrate evidenced-based best-practice approaches into existing services. These partnerships will see better coordination, increased collaboration and enhanced strategic policy directions in the coming months and years.

The ACT government will also be an active partner in recent national developments in this area via the COAG Health Council, which has recently decided to support Australia’s first national suicide prevention plan by expanding the scope of the fifth national mental health plan. Each attempted or completed suicide in this city takes a toll on our community, rippling through families, workplaces and groups of friends. There is no single answer to combating suicide, but each step forward in improving services and each conversation had with someone in distress are a step closer to potentially saving a life. I present a copy of the statement and I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Madam Speaker presented the following papers:

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