Local agencies and community members are coming together to try to reduce the Pilbara’s high suicide rate and create awareness of the issue in the area.
A community forum to develop a local action plan under the State Government’s One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy was held last week, with another meeting planned for August 28.
The strategy aims to engage communities and develop local action plans to transform attitudes about suicide.
Pilbara Community Legal Services One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy community co-ordinator Kathy Nelson said the Pilbara had some of the highest rates of suicide in the State, and something had to be done to raise awareness of the problem.
“We need to get more community members on board – not just local agencies, not government workers, we need residents to tell us what they want to see done to solve this crisis,” she said.
“Until everyone gets involved, everyone backs it and gets behind it, and we put measures in place that do help, only then will we see the rates decline.”
Former-ABC broadcaster Glenn Mitchell, who spoke at the forum about his battle with depression, said the Hedland community was passionate about making a change.
“The community is telling us what the needs are, and they’re so committed to making this a better community with regards to suicide awareness and prevention,” he said.
“That’s what you need – that critical mass of people who are going to get on the front foot and drive it.
“They’re the ones on the ground that have lived here and know about the issues; this isn’t a government coming over the top like a big brother saying this is what you need to do, it’s a way for grassroots community to make a difference.”
One Life network co-ordinator Fiona Mouritz said instead of looking at suicide as a health issue, the strategy took it as a community issue which everyone could help to deal with.
“This is a relatively new way of looking at suicide prevention, and we’ve seen results across the rest of the State already,” she said.
“Essentially, we will listen to what the community wants done, put it together as an action plan, send it off to the government to receive funding then help implement it.”
The next community strategy meeting will be held at 2.30pm on August 28 at Lotteries House in South Hedland. Local residents are invited to attend.