Experts push for suicide 'safety planning'

·2-min read

Australians grappling with suicidal thoughts are being urged to set up a suicide safety plan.

Research shows that safety planning can reduce the intensity of suicidal thoughts, however emerging trends suggest most who have recently contemplated taking their own life have not heard of suicide safety planning, according to Beyond Blue.

The organisation is pushing Australians to take advantage of their Beyond Now app, which lets users personalise safety plans with reasons for living, and offers them ways to cope.

People can upload photos and videos of the things that are important to them, like family or pets.

"When bushfire season hits, many people will have a bushfire plan prepared to keep them safe," Beyond Blue chief executive Georgie Harman said on Saturday, World Suicide Prevention Day.

"Workplaces (practise) evacuation drills so they know what to do in an emergency. Having a plan can make all the difference.

"However, few people know what a suicide safety plan is, and that needs to change."

A safety plan helps people with suicidal thoughts recognise their warning signs, be reminded of their reasons to live, get distracted from their thoughts, and connect with people to talk to, including professionals.

Nine people take their own lives in Australia each day and data shows suicide rates have increased over the past decade, according to Beyond Blue.

Over the past 12 months, 88 per cent of suicide prevention services have seen an increase in demand, according to Suicide Prevention Australia.

Additionally, 70 per cent of Australians have experienced elevated distress compared with this time last year, with cost-of-living pressures and personal debt the lead cause.

The peak body on Saturday announced it would shift from annual to quarterly tracking of suicide risk factors to keep a closer eye on levels of distress in the community.

"Our members have told us they need more real-time information on distress in the community and suicide risk factors," Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nieves Murray said.

"Access to more timely, reliable data can help service providers prepare and intervene earlier with appropriate solutions."

The body is pushing for the federal government to introduce a national suicide prevention act, similar to what Japan has enacted to help reduce suicide deaths.

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beyondblue 1300 22 4636