Western NSW PHN staff all working towards zero suicide

Cobar’s Suicide Prevention Care Coordinator, Jody McCabe, was invited to present at the 2021 Western NSW Regional Suicide Prevention Forum in Dubbo last week.
‘The Suicide Prevention Forum to Harness Global Knowledge and Local Insights to De-liver Practical Solutions’ brought together community members and suicide prevention specialists with a focus on one of the region’s most challenging issues.
Hosted by Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN), WNSW PHN Acting CEO Robert Strickland said the two-day event was an opportunity for attendees to hear the latest developments from across our region, and the continuing and developing strategies being used by a number of guest speakers.
“Bringing together people who have the knowledge and lived experience is essential to developing effective strategies to prevent suicide in Western NSW,” Mr Strickland said.
“The suicide rate in Western NSW is higher than the state average and WNSW PHN is developing and delivering localised strategies to address common sources of distress, such as isolation and disconnection from family, friends, community and culture.
“We also wish to support communities to expand their knowledge, skills and confidence in being able to recognise the signs that some-one may be going through hard times and pro-vide appropriate support.”
Jody said the region has a focus on #Toward-sZero Suicide.
In her presentation, Jody spoke about the initiatives they had brought to Cobar over the past two and a half years including: Mates in Mining, working with farmers, RUOK days, her work with local schools, the facilitation of ‘safe talks’, participation in Batyr days, com-munity engagement during NAIDOC Week and working with the local rugby league club.
“The Roosters got the suicide prevention logo on their jerseys and they were the first club in Western NSW to recognise the suicide prevention program, so that was a great success,” Jody said.
Based on statistics, she said their key target areas in Cobar are Aboriginal people, farmers, miners and youth and each of their programs are designed with that focus in mind.
Jody said Cobar was chosen to be part of a suicide prevention trial based on the high number of people aged 18+ requiring a “crisis mental health intervention”. She said much of the problem with poor mental health (which can lead to suicide) is the stigma that sur-rounds it.
“That’s basically what we’ve been doing here in Cobar, working with the community in addressing the issue and breaking down the stigma, which was a huge win for me, because I know when I first started in this role, no one wanted to know me,” she said.