The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative launched the Black Dog Institute’s LifeSpan project in Kiama on Thursday.
Black Dog Institute LifeSpan Director Rachel Green was delighted with the community’s interest in the launch.
“I’m just so pleased to see so many people here, what was really exciting was as soon as the speeches finished there was a rush on that desk of people signing up for the QPR program, that’s such a big change,” she said.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer and are three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.
The training provides people with knowledge and skills to identify warning signs that someone may be suicidal, confidence to talk to them about suicidal thoughts and help connect them with professional care.
“QPR is like CPR, but for suicide prevention. It gives a person the skills to notice the warning signs and feel more confident about asking someone if they need help, asking them if they’re feeling suicidal and then knowing what to do about it and how to approach it in a way that’s most likely to get that person to help,” Mrs Green said.
“Before LifeSpan started, there was about 5000 people around the whole country who had done that program, we want to see that figure increase dramatically.
“That’s one of the things we will be tracking throughout the LifeSpan research trial and I’m so excited to see already that the collaborative has started trying to reach their target numbers of people trained in QPR.”
In fact, studies show that most people who are in that situation and are asked if they’re feeling suicidal, what they feel is relief.
Mrs Green said 60 to 70 per cent of people who are thinking about suicide aren’t connected with a service.
“We really see it as building a safety net across the community, so there’s a greater chance someone spots the warning signs, asks if they’re ok and gets them some help,” she said.
“Often when suicides occur, people didn’t know they needed help.
“QPR takes 60-minutes and costs $10, it’s such a little investment that could save a life.
“We know already, we’ve got good evidence that that doesn’t put the idea in someone’s head, it’s safe to ask, you’re not putting someone at risk by saying ‘hey have you been thinking about suicide? I’m really worried about you’.
“In fact, studies show that most people who are in that situation and are asked if they’re feeling suicidal, what they feel is relief.”
The launch coincided with R U OK? Day, a campaign which reminds people that having meaningful conversations with others could save lives.
“I’m really excited about what R U OK? Day has done with their messaging this year, by really taking that key message of asking a mate how they’re going a bit further and giving them the full steps of how to ask that question and what to do,” Mrs Green said.