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29 November 2012

Proposed clinical guidelines to help individuals at risk of attempting or completing suicide will be outlined at a mental health symposium on December 6. Image: istock_5623919 Proposed clinical guidelines to help individuals at risk of attempting or completing suicide will be outlined at a mental health symposium, jointly presented by the University of South Australia and Country Health SA, in Whyalla on December 6.

The guidelines, which provide health professionals and allied health workers with instructions on the mandatory management of suicidal people, will be presented by UniSA’s Chair of Mental Health Nursing Professor Nicholas Procter and Clinical Mental Health Nursing Director of Country Health SA LHN Philip Galley.

The first of their kind in South Australia, the Guidelines for Working with the Suicidal Person will offer a framework to support health professionals and other frontline responders working with those who are at risk or feeling suicidal.

“For the first time in our state, we are proposing concrete guidelines for working with the suicidal person. They will support and inform clinical assessment, decision-making and the transfer of care of people who may be feeling suicidal,” Prof Procter says.  

“These guidelines emphasise the importance of clinical engagement, given that human connectedness is a protective factor for suicide.

“We know that every four hours somebody completes suicide in Australia and that suicide remains the leading cause of death among Australians between 15 and 34 years of age. This is a critical issue in our community.”

According to Galley, the guidelines will support the South Australian Government’s wider Suicide Prevention Strategy, which was developed in close consultation with communities across South Australia. The guidelines are the product of three successful symposia held in metropolitan and regional South Australia since March 2011, attended by approximately 400 clinicians, consumers, carers, policy makers and service managers.

“We have worked closely with the mental health community and the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist to align the guidelines with the South Australian Government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy 2012-16. The symposium will provide the opportunity for further consultation and practice development with those on the frontline of healthcare with at risk individuals,” he says.

“The choice of a regional centre (Whyalla) for the launch reflects the fact that the guidelines are in part the product of significant mental health capacity building work with general nurses and midwives across country South Australia over the past two years.”

The symposium Therapeutic Engagement in Mental Health Assessment will be held at UniSA’s Whyalla Centre for Regional Engagement and is sponsored by SA Health, Centacare Catholic Family Services Whyalla and UniSA’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Research Group.

Key speakers include former Fremantle and St Kilda AFL player, Heath Black; Director of Healthmaps, Brendan Pawsey; Senior Psychiatrist, Southern Adelaide Health Service, Dr Conrad Newman; and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Candidate, Country Health SA, Trudi-Ann Brooks.

Media Contact

Rosanna Galvin office (08) 8302 0578 mobile 0434 603 457 email rosanna.galvin@unisa.edu.au

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