Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevention Action Group
MRSPAG Suicide Prevention Forum - Report
More than 50 people joined a forum hosted by MRSPAG in Woodend on 28 June 2017 to explore ways the community can work together to prevent suicide in the Macedon Ranges.
The forum began with two speakers who have lived experience of suicide – MRSPAG Deputy Chair Noelene Ward shared her moving story of losing her son to suicide and Andrew Rogers spoke openly about his lived experience as a suicide attempt survivor.
Both speakers highlighted that as a society, Australia does not deal well with the issue of suicide or understand the extent to which the community could support people with mental illness. Talking about suicide and suicidality can be difficult, but both speakers stressed that discussing these issues in a responsible, safe way as a community can help to prevent suicide.
MRSPAG Chair Lynsey Ward outlined what we have accomplished so far towards achieving our objectives to decrease stigma and raise community awareness; support people at risk and those bereaved by suicide; advocate for improved mental health services in the shire; and strengthen our evidence base.
Michal Morris, a Director of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network spoke briefly about their Macedon Ranges place-based suicide prevention initiative which is about to commence and will roll out over the next four years.
The ideas and discussions from the forum will inform MRSPAG’s action plan and future activities.
Members of MRSPAG extend thanks to community members and service providers for sharing their ideas as well as to forum facilitator Tim Adam, Woodend Rotary, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, the Anglican Parish of Woodend-Trentham, Kyneton Lions, Openhouse Macedon Ranges and Gisborne Rotary for helping make this event possible.
In 2012 Macedon Ranges Shire Council analysed data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics relating to the cause of death of Macedon Ranges Shire residents between 1989 and 2010. This data indicated that the suicide rate for Macedon Ranges was trending upward, opposite to the downward state and national trends observed during that period.
In response, the Macedon Ranges Shire Council facilitated two workshops to discuss this suicide data. An inter-agency workshop was held in November 2013, aimed at those working with and supporting residents of Macedon Ranges followed by a community workshop in April 2014.
Inter-Agency Recommendations/next actions
- That further relevant information and evidence be collated and organised so that the issue may be comprehensively explored.
- That a round-table discussion be held in February 2014 with key stakeholders including politicians, community members with lived experience, and community champions, with the aim of formulating a suicide prevention action plan for the Macedon Ranges Shire.
Community Workshop Recommendations/next actions
- To form a working group made up of community members with lived experience, representatives from organisations that provide mental health services in the Macedon Ranges Shire and other key stakeholders.
- To engage with community members with lived experience who weren’t represented at the workshop (i.e. men, older people).
- Drawing on the outcomes from the Inter-Agency and Community workshops, to draft a shire-wide suicide prevention action plan that covers the prevention-response-recovery spectrum with achievable short, medium and long-term actions.
Since these workshops Macedon Ranges Shire Council has actively supported the establishment of the Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevention Action Group - MRSPAG. MRSPAG has developed an action plan (see below) to help progress three identified priority areas:
1. Stigma and Community Awareness.
2. Support for parents carers and friends.
3. Mental Health Services in the Macedon Ranges.
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