General News Suicide — 10 August 2015

An online petition is calling on the Tasmanian Government to fund emergency support phones and signs in locations where people take their lives.

Lifeline operates emergency support phones in some other states.

The free phones are attached to signs with messages such as ‘Hold onto hope there is always help’, ‘Call a friend. Call your family. Call us.’ and ‘We CARE, We can HELP. Day or Night’.

Mental Health Council of Tasmania chief executive Connie Degolis said there was evidence the phones had been effective in New South Wales.

“My understanding is some of the data they’re getting is showing that there is quite a success,” she said.

“Ninety percent [of suicides] are actually preventable, so any measures that can be put in place to help someone consider taking some different actions, then we certainly support that.”

Hanna Zoldi started the online petition and has received support from more than 800 people in two weeks.

In the post Ms Zoldi writes:

“Talking to someone, hearing someone’s voice, having someone listen, having valuable advice given and knowing someone cares can often be all that people need to get through times of hardship. This is what these signs can offer,” she wrote.

Ms Degolis said while the emergency support phones were a “fantastic idea” they would not work in isolation.

“It shouldn’t be the only step, this is one of many options in prevention,” she said

“We would also have to make sure that we’ve literally got someone on the end of the phone and if we’re talking dedicated lines, then there’d be logistics that would need to be considered.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of 15 to 24-year-olds, and Tasmania has an overall suicide rate higher than the national average.

The State Government is working on a Youth Suicide Strategy and a Tasmanian Suicide Strategy.

This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 10 August 2015.


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