Fifty signatures in support of a Barossa Suicide Prevention Network

Supporting a Barossa Suicide Prevention Network is Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention John Dawkins, SA Health Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, suicide prevention senior project officer Adam Clay with Federal Barker Member Tony Pasin and Barossa Council Mayor Bim Lange at the May 13 meeting.

Supporting a Barossa Suicide Prevention Network is Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention John Dawkins, SA Health Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, suicide prevention senior project officer Adam Clay with Federal Barker Member Tony Pasin and Barossa Council Mayor Bim Lange at the May 13 meeting.

Clear messages of hope were expressed by a supportive group of community members on Monday night who all indicated by a show of hands a need for a suicide prevention network to be established in the Barossa.

The 150 people, including health and business professionals and concerned residents who packed the Nuriootpa Soldier's Memorial Hall, joined for the region's first-ever Suicide Prevention Network information forum.

Instigated by Barossa Council Mayor Bim Lange, following a discussion last October with Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention John Dawkins, the forum was facilitated by SA Health Office of the Chief Psychiatrist suicide prevention senior project officer Adam Clay.

Mr Clay revealed that in 2017, 224 SA people 'died by suicide'.

"That's four times the road death toll," he said.

However, he explained that a network can help to change those figures.

While Mr Clay's talk briefly touched on statistics, the two-hour meeting was structured to discuss positive ways in which the Barossa community can join to breakdown the stigma surrounding suicide and improve help for others.

"The priority is to create a caring and nurturing environment," he shared.

It's about changing the fabric and breaking down that stigma.

SA Health Office of the Chief Psychiatrist suicide prevention senior project officer Adam Clay

The meeting further promoted the offer of help in the community to assist people so they can feel confident in receiving the support they need without fear of judgement.

Mr Clay's power point presentation highlighted ways in which to develop a Barossa Prevention Suicide Network.

This included pulling together a collaborative network involving GPs, sporting clubs, community groups and services, schools, online support, local businesses and other community resources.

"People don't feel comfortable talking to their GP...linking people who are in need is much quicker and much better with these networks," he said.

"It's also about changing the fabric and breaking down that stigma."

He further referred to the language used today, which includes 'died by suicide', 'attempt to take life' and took their own life', and moving away from 'commit suicide'.

"We also need to change when we say we are okay when we are not."

Simple things like a small, green pack, provided to all who attended, has also been introduced.

The pack includes two tea bags and two support service cards..

The idea, Mr Clay explained, is aimed at two people sitting down over a cup of tea and opening up the conversation about suicide, and also sharing phone details.

South Australian Suicide Networks 'staying safe' packs containing two tea bags and two support service cards.

South Australian Suicide Networks 'staying safe' packs containing two tea bags and two support service cards.

Meanwhile, there are 39 established suicide prevention groups in SA to date, including the Gawler Community Suicide Prevention, with members in attendance on Monday night.

"Three years ago only 14 networks were in existence," Mr Clay said.

He also shared his enthusiasm over the Barossa hosting a meeting with a four times higher attendance rate than any other forum he had steered.

"There is a groundswell of support here," Mr Clay said.

He was also joined earlier in the evening by guest speakers Mayor Bim Lange, White Dog Mental Health Group advocate Sue Raven and former Tanunda Football Club president Dan Eggleton.

Each provided an insight into their reasons behind the need for a suicide prevention network and what their support means.

Mayor Lange, also humbled by the turnout, said the network is the Barossa's chance at "providing a beacon of hope...so let's support each other".

The community was encouraged to indicate their support to help establish a Barossa network, with 50 signatures left at the end of the meeting.

From here a series of meetings will be facilitated and, with Mr Clay's support, a final group will be formed.

For those community members keen to be involved, you can phone Adam Clay on 8226 6124 or email: adam.clay@sa.gov.au.

Support

If you or someone you know needs support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours), or SMS 0477 13 11 14 (6pm - 10pm).

You can also contact your GP and other support services including Headspace and Beyond Blue.