University leaders will undergo online training in the coming months in how to respond to the death of a student or staff member by suicide.
Universities Australia and headspace have teamed up to provide evidence-based training for staff in the most effective way to support members of the university community following a suicide.
In 2018, suicide accounted for more than a third of deaths among people aged 15 to 24.
The training, to be carried out during October and November, will give senior university leaders such as deputy vice chancellors, leaders in student life/experience and communications directors, practical guidelines on managing the trauma of suicide in the weeks and months after a death.
Everymind is proud to be supporting university communities in how they respond to #suicide with the launch of an evidence-informed toolkit w/@uniaus & @headspace_au. It will be accompanied by training & support. Find out more 👇👇@catrionajackso1@JasonTrethowan@CarmelLoughlandhttps://t.co/AO8ABS0X8P— Everymind (@EverymindAU) September 1, 2020
The type of language to use, actions to take, supports to put in place and specialist advice on developing institutional suicide response plans will be addressed within the program.
"Suicide is a difficult subject for most of us to discuss and the impact on those touched by it - families, friends and communities - is immediate and shocking," said Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson.
"The effect on a university community is no different. It often happens unexpectedly and leaves staff and students with many questions about what to do next."
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Federation University vice chancellor Professor Duncan Bentley welcomed the new training program and any work to support a safe environment for students and staff.
"We have professional counselling services available to support the needs of students and an Employee Assistance Program for staff," he said.
"They use a suite of sophisticated approaches and tools developed over many years. This additional toolkit was developed by our sector to add to our capability.
"We also provide mental health first aid training for staff and residential advisors who might come into contact with people experiencing psychological distress."
headspace chief executive Jason Trethowan said his organisation had worked with school communities across Australia to support them after a suicide.
"This crucial work, undertaken all year round, helps schools and the communities surrounding them to manage risk and ensure young people, parents, families and teachers are well supported to get through these times."
"The work headspace does has become critical to communities and we're proud to begin the process in extending this further with the development of the toolkit designed for Australia's universities."
Everymind acting director Carmel Loughland said universities could help raise awareness, and break down the stigma and myths surrounding suicide.
"This training empowers university communities to navigate instances of suicide, while minimising potential impact to vulnerable community members and promoting and providing help-seeking pathways."
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14. Help is also available, but not limited, via the following organisations. The key message is you are not alone.
- Lifeline: 13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467, www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
- MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au