Making rural suicide a priority

Making rural suicide a priority

Good SPACE brand (formerly Farm-Link) was launched in July 2017.

Good SPACE brand (formerly Farm-Link) was launched in July 2017.

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In every state in Australia, the rate of suicide among those who live outside the capital cities is higher than that for residents who live within them.

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In every state in Australia, the rate of suicide among those who live outside the capital cities is higher than that for residents who live within them.

According to the Director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), Professor David Perkins, it is important that the issue of suicide prevention is seen as a major issue for rural areas.

“Suicide is often preventable and this is why one of the Centre’s key priorities is understanding and responding to suicide in rural and remote communities across NSW,” said Professor Perkins.

The Centre provides a range of workshops and training courses on suicide awareness, understanding and prevention, with information around how to support those who are at risk.

Two of their key programs are called Good SPACE and We-Yarn.

What is Good SPACE?

SPACE: Suicide Prevention through Awareness, Courage and Empathy.

Good SPACE (formerly known as Farm-Link) is a suicide prevention program that was established in 2007 to address a high suicide rate among farmers. It is funded by the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network, and is provided by the University of Newcastle’s CRRMH. 

The Good SPACE program delivers various workshops to teach community members and frontline workers the skills they need to recognise if someone is at risk of suicide and how to respond.

In these workshops participants learn why people consider, attempt or die by suicide, what to say to someone who is at risk, what the signs are that a person might be thinking of suicide and how and when to help.

The workshop also encourages people to improve their own health and wellbeing, and offers practical tips on how to do this.

Good SPACE Program Coordinator, Fiona Livingstone, said we know that suicide is often preventable yet twice as many Australians die by suicide every year compared to road accidents.

“By coming to one of our Good SPACE workshops, you can help reduce suicide in your community. It might be as simple as having a conversation with someone you may be concerned about and asking, “Are you okay?, I’ve noticed some changes in you lately and I am just wondering how you are?” said Fiona.

“The workshop also teaches participants what to say if the person responds that they are not okay,” she said.

The Good SPACE workshop is free and anyone aged 18 years and over is welcome to attend.

As Viktor E. Frankl, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry and Auschwitz Concentration Camp Survivor said: Between stimulus (what is happening to us) and response (what we do about it) there is a SPACE. In that SPACE is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

We have the power to choose to respond in a helpful way to the distress of another person. We also have the power to choose how we respond to our own health and wellbeing, and this is suicide prevention – the healthier we are, the lower our risk of experiencing mental or physical health problems.

What participants have said about the Good SPACE workshops

When asked what they learnt at the workshop

'There is something I can do to help to prevent suicide.'

'How to ask someone about whether they're having suicidal thoughts.’

'Recognising and identifying people with potential thoughts or plans of suicide.’

When asked about what the best aspect of the workshop was

'Gaining confidence to be able to ask the right questions and knowing how to respond to the answer.'

'Clear and current information. Open and honest discussion. Very informative!'

'Has given me a new skill set to help someone.’

  • You can read more about Good SPACE workshops on www.crrmh.com.au
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