Cobar has been chosen as one of 12 sites in Australia to participate in a National Suicide Prevention Trial.
Dr Scott Fitzpatrick and Dr Donna Read from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health in Orange (which is affiliated with the University of Newcastle) were in Cobar last Wednesday to consult with local service providers on the needs of the Cobar community.
“We have been commissioned by the Western Primary Health Network to undertake a community and service provider consultation for the National Suicide Prevention Trial,” Dr Fitzpatrick told The Cobar Weekly.
“It’s part of a national trial.
“Twelve trial sites have been selected nationally and four of those trial sites have been allocated within the Western Primary Health Network—Cobar, Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett.”
Dr Fitzpatrick said they were in the process of visiting the four western NSW communities.
“We’ve been engaging in a consultation around suicide prevention and what is needed in those communities and what can be implemented within the National Suicide Prevention Trial,” he said.
Dr Fitzpatrick said the trial sites were chosen for various reasons.
“For example Kimberly was chosen for indigenous suicides, so populations at risk; Townsville was chosen for veterans suicide; I think Perth South for youth suicide and then there were other rural and remote sites chosen because of fragmentation of services and the difficulties of providing suicide prevention in those communities,” he said.
Dr Fitzpatrick said it was not necessarily because there had been high rates of suicide in these areas.
“We know there are a lot of variabilities with suicide,” he said.
“People talk about high rates of rural suicide, that’s not necessarily all rural areas, some rural areas have higher rates of suicide than others.”
Dr Fitzpatrick said while a lot of focus is on health with suicide prevention they also realise there’s a role for social and community services, like housing, and a lot of non government organisations like Mission Australia, and Flourish, to play in prevention.
“Schools have an important role to play, PCYC’s and people who are running activities for young and marginalised people, farming groups and the shire as well,” he said.
In addition to holding a general meeting with various community stakeholders last Wednesday at the council chambers, Dr Fitzpatrick and Dr Read also had a number of one-on-one meetings which included speaking with school counsellor Claire Wood and men’s shed coordinator Gordon Hill.
Dr Read said if anyone in the community has a particular point of view and wanted to have a say about suicide prevention, they can contact them through the Cobar Primary Health Care Centre.