Universities will be better equipped to intervene early to help prevent the devastating impact of suicide in their communities thanks to a framework released recently by Universities Australia and Suicide Prevention Australia.
Suicide Prevention: A Competency Framework for Universities offers a structure which enables early intervention for staff who may be experiencing suicidal behaviour, staff or students with a lived experience of suicidal behaviour, and people studying who may experience struggles or factors that cause significant distress.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the framework considered the roles university staff and students play in responding to the complex risk factors found in universities.
‘We know the devastating impact of suicide on university communities is immediate, traumatic and far-reaching,’ said Ms Jackson.
‘And as many return to campus after a period of much uncertainty and disruption, universities understand their responsibility to the health, safety and wellbeing of the 1.5 million students they educate, as well as their 100,000 staff.
‘We’re encouraging universities to weave this framework into their existing policies and practices as a crucial step to ensure that every person who needs support can access a consistent, high-quality and safe standard of care,’ she said.
Building on partnerships
Universities Australia said the new framework builds on the longstanding work of universities to support the positive mental health of their communities, and complements existing partnerships between universities and organisations such as Orygen, headspace and Everymind.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said ‘We all have a role to play in suicide prevention. Partnerships like this have the capacity to build robust solutions that can make a real difference to the lives of many people.
‘Importantly, this approach takes into consideration the roles of non-clinical university staff and students in responding to the diverse and complex risk factors found in universities,’ she said.
‘Recognising the early warning signs and then responding appropriately is a critical part of suicide prevention. It is our hope that with this framework, we can encourage more universities to facilitate these conversations, reduce the stigma, and ultimately work to reduce deaths by suicide.
‘We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community,’ said Ms Murray.
To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.