Suicide accounted for approximately 105,730 years of potential life lost in 2018. Wesley Mission has provided telephone crisis support since we founded Lifeline in 1963. Today, Wesley Mission is a leader in suicide prevention programs. Our ground–breaking Wesley LifeForce Networks empower communities to deliver local, targeted strategies along with education and training to recognise the warning signs and to prevent further loss.
Increasing suicide prevention networks support local communities
We believe that every life matters. Our Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks exist to support at-risk communities in reducing suicide at a local level. Wesley LifeForce saw significant growth in 2018/19 with five new staff, 104 established suicide prevention networks and 11 in the planning and proposed phases including two new NSW networks in Taree and Forster/Tuncurry. We’re also expanding to Victoria with three networks in the development stage in Edenhope, Mildura and Robinvale.
We continued to walk alongside people grieving the loss of their loved ones to suicide. Our annual Wesley LifeForce Memorial Services in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Darwin are an opportunity for those bereaved by suicide to reflect and support each other together in a spirit of comfort and hope.
Conferences shed light on suicide and mental health concerns
We’re continuing to lead the way with suicide prevention education. Our 2018 Wesley LifeForce Suicide Conference was held in Proserpine in northern Queensland to support the communities who were impacted by Cyclone Debbie in 2017. The infrastructure damages have left a continuing mental health impact from the trauma residents experienced during the wild weather. The conference helped to shine a light on suicide and mental health during the aftermath of a natural disaster and increased awareness about the ongoing impact it has on a community.
In 2018 we partnered with the Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN), to hold the first western NSW Regional Suicide Prevention Forum in Dubbo. The forum brought together community members and suicide prevention specialists to instigate conversations about suicide prevention, mental health issues and building communities of resilience.
We also partnered with the Rotary Club of Sydney and hosted ‘Let’s talk—Mental Health and Suicide’ conference. Held at the Wesley Theatre in Sydney the conference heard from mental health experts and spokespeople including Wesley Mission CEO, the Rev Keith V Garner AM, celebrated rugby league footballer and now leading commentator Wally Lewis AM, National Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan, mental health author and Non-Executive Director for RU OK? Graeme Cowan and Australian medical TV presenter, Dr Andrew Rochford.
University research validates mental health training
Since 1995 Wesley LifeForce has reached over 30,000 people across the nation, including community members, aged care nurses and workers, medical practice staff, general practitioners, practice nurses and relationship counsellors through their suicide prevention training workshops.
We continually seek to improve the effectiveness of our mental health training programs through conducting research.
We commissioned the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University to undertake a two–phase evaluation of Wesley LifeForce Training.
Their research revealed that Wesley LifeForce Training is ‘robust and effective’ and both sets and meets international best practice standards for suicide training as a trusted leader in suicide prevention and intervention. They also concluded workshop participants can expect to increase their perceived capability, declarative knowledge, positive attitudes and willingness to intervene in suicide prevention once they undertake learning through our Wesley LifeForce Training courses.
Research and continued academic rigour to ensure outcomes
It is important to Wesley Mission not only to be doing all the good we can, but to ensure that we’re investing into those activities that achieve the greatest impact. Research and partnering with leading institutions is an important aspect of validating and continuously improving our programs.
A partnership with Western Sydney University to research mental health in older people is underway. The research will pave the way for more resources to be poured into supporting older people struggling with poor mental health.
We’ve launched a new research project with Melbourne University to evaluate Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks and the results will be released in the 2019/20 financial year.