Queensland Health data from 2015 showed that 1 in 4 people who died by suspected suicide had contact with a Queensland Health service within seven days of their death. Research indicates that 1 in 5 people have contact with a primary care provider, such as a GP within one week of their death.
To help drive improvements across the health system, $9.6 million over four years (2016-17 to 2019-20) has been allocated through the Suicide Prevention in Health Services Initiative. The Initiative forms an integral part of the plan for Queensland’s state-funded mental health, alcohol and other drug services – Connecting care to recovery 2016–2021 and comprises three main components:
- The establishment and operation of a Queensland Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce (the Taskforce) as a partnership between the Department of Health, Hospital and Health Services (HHSs), Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and people with a lived experience.
- Analysis of events relating to deaths by suspected suicide of people that had a recent contact with a health service to inform future actions and improvements in service responses.
- Continued implementation of training for hospital emergency department staff and other frontline acute mental health care staff in recognising, responding to and providing care to people presenting to HHSs with suicide risk.
Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce
The Department of Health, through the Taskforce, is driving a renewed focus on the responsibility of health services in recognising, responding to and providing care to people at risk of suicide. A critical attribute to the successful implementation of suicide prevention strategies is organisational leadership which articulates and instils the fundamental tenet that suicide is preventable; thereby, creating a culture that considers a suicide attempt or death an unacceptable outcome of care. Identifying and leading innovative partnerships between HHSs, Primary Health Networks and people with a lived experience to promote the delivery of high quality, evidence-based treatments for people identified with suicide risk is a key Taskforce objective.
The Taskforce Action Plan focuses on the development of suicide prevention policy, strategies, services and programs to be used in a health service delivery context in order to contribute to a measurable reduction in suicide and its impact on Queenslanders. Priority action areas include:
- Skills development and support
- Evidence based treatment and care
- Pathways to care within and external to specialist mental health services
The Taskforce recognises that effective suicide prevention is a shared responsibility requiring a comprehensive, cross-sectoral and whole-of-government approach. Therefore, the work of the Taskforce complements the actions identified within the Queensland Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2015-2017. Hospital and Health Services and Primary Health Networks also play an important leadership role in partnering with other local service providers and people with a lived experience to improve the health system’s capacity to respond to people at risk of suicide.
Major milestones achieved in 2016–2017 are outlined in the Suicide Prevention Health Services Initiative Year 1 progress report.
- Suicide Prevention in Health Services Initiative: Year 1
- Suicide Prevention in Health Services Initiative: Year 2