Strategy to stop suicides under fire
Helen Morton Picture: Travis Anderson

A report has poked holes in the State Government's suicide prevention strategy, revealing WA's high suicide rate could have been reduced if the plan had been better rolled out and planned for.

The Auditor-General's report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, found that the WA Suicide Prevention Strategy 2009-2013 - also known as OneLife - had introduced a different approach to suicide prevention that had received positive community feedback.

But Auditor-General Colin Murphy said the $18 million strategy could have delivered better outcomes if it had been better executed.

The report says that WA's suicide rate has increased over the past decade to 36 per cent above the national suicide rate and some communities in the Kimberley have suicide rates 20 times the State average.

It found that while the strategy engaged communities and organisations in suicide prevention activities that benefited participants, the limited capacity in many communities to continue those activities without external support reduced the chance that the benefits would be sustained.

However, key findings of the report were that communities had since better recognised and responded to warning signs and that activities had destigmatised suicide and led to better understanding of its causes.

Mr Murphy said time, effort and money had been wasted on governance, procurement and initial planning when they could have been better spent on pre- vention.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said many changes suggested in the report had already been made and she was certain the next phase of the strategy would be sustainable, with better co-ordination, planning and management.

Shadow mental health minister Stephen Dawson said the report confirmed that the Government was not doing enough to address the tragic rates of suicide seen in WA.

The West Australian

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