A VICTORIAN program that supports individuals who have attempted suicide will expand to the Wimmera.
The Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement – HOPE – initiative provides practical support for people across Victoria who have thought about suicide or made an attempt on their life, and need an intensive response in the months following.
The program – which has assessed and supported more than 500 people since it started last year – helps people for up to three months after they leave hospital following a suicide attempt.
It also supports carers and families to identify factors and build strategies to reduce the risk of suicide.
The program has been trialed at hospitals including The Alfred in Melbourne and Barwon Health in Geelong.
The government has announced it will provide funding for the program to be rolled out in a further six hospitals and health services including Ballarat Health Services, which will service the Wimmera.
Ballarat Health Services mental health director Mick Fryar said the organisation provided public mental health services for the Grampians region.
“We service Bacchus Marsh through to the South Australian border and up to Beulah,” he said.
“The funding and services that will come online as a result of this rollout will certainly benefit the Wimmera.
“We actively advocate for our rural communities to be able to have the same level of access and quality treatment and positive outcomes as the larger communities.”
Mr Fryar said the first step in the rollout would be a series of forums with service partners – including Wimmera health services, Uniting Wimmera and headspace Horsham – to discuss and understand their need.
“They'll be able to advise us and work with us on where to best target the funding and resources,” he said.
“We'll have a couple of community forums as well.
“The needs in the Wimmera will be different to Ballarat of course.
“It’s important ithat we establish really good partnerships with all our services.
“The way to improve the mental health of our communities and have significant impact on suicide rate, and get services and care for people much earlier, is to form strong partnerships so there's streamlined access to care and treatment.
“It's about the right service at the right time in the right place.”
Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said the program would also be rolled out to Bendigo Health Service – which will support Mildura; Casey Hospital; Latrobe Regional Hospital; Sunshine Hospital; and Werribee Mercy Hospital.
HOPE is part of the state government’s Victorian Suicide Prevention Framework 2016-25, a co-ordinated strategy to halve the state’s suicide rate by 2025.
Mr Foley said the new sites were selected based on suicide and intentional self-injury data analysis; population demographics; and community profiles.
“Every year, suicide takes more than twice as many lives as the road toll – that’s simply unacceptable,” he said.
“The HOPE program has already helped hundreds of Victorians who have attempted suicide and need an intensive response in the months following, which we know can be a period of heightened risk.
“By expanding the program to more sites across the state, we are continuing to take a proactive approach to suicide prevention, working together as a community to prevent devastating outcomes.”
The government allocated $18.7 million in its 2018-19 budget to expand the HOPE program.
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