Those who have experienced loss through suicide are encouraged to join Lifeline's Support After Suicide group starting in Lismore early next month.
Those who have experienced loss through suicide are encouraged to join Lifeline's Support After Suicide group starting in Lismore early next month. Contributed

R U OK? Throwing a lifeline to those in need

THIS week could be the most apt time to address the difficult topic of suicide, its impacts and how to help prevent it.

On the back of World Suicide Prevention day on Monday and coinciding with R U OK? Day today, Northern Rivers Lifeline have revealed some vital initiatives which aim to help to reduce incidences of suicide and offer support to those dealing with the loss of someone in the Lismore community and surrounds.

Northern Rivers Crisis Support Centre manager Niall Mulligan said data gathered by NSW Health on the incidences of local suicide in the region was worrying.

"Recent NSW Health statistics, on the number of suicides by region, show that areas of the Northern NSW health district have some of the highest rates of suicide by population in NSW,” Mr Mulligan said.

"Lismore is among the top LGAs (Local Government Areas) in the region, with Byron and Richmond Valley sitting slightly higher.

"The data is concerning, but Lifeline is committed to working to reduce the incidence of suicide in the community. We all recognise that suicide is a community issue that needs a community-based response.”

To support those bereaved by suicide, Lifeline Northern Rivers will deliver a Support After Suicide group in Lismore early next month, until early December.

Mr Mulligan said the aim of the group is to help people bereaved by suicide to work through their grief, to manage their emotions and to better cope with everyday life by sharing, listening and giving mutual support in an understanding, safe and confidential environment.

"The loss of life to suicide is always a tragedy and its impact on family and friends can be profound and long-lasting,” he said.

"Those left behind can find it very difficult to cope with the enormity of their loss.

"Complex feelings may emerge following the sudden and traumatic suicide of someone close to you, including sadness, guilt, fear, relief, confusion, rejection and isolation.

"It is often felt that only someone who has gone through a similar experience can fully understand the depth of emotions felt by family and friends.”

This is the sixth year that a group of this kind has been offered on the Northern Rivers. The group will be led by a trained facilitator with significant experience in working with groups of this kind, additionally the group will also be supported by another trained counsellor.

"The most important thing people need to recognise is that reaching out for support is not an admission of weakness or failure,” he said.

"We know it's an incredible difficult experienced and that people should be open to the idea of receiving support.

"We do know previous group members all found the group to be incredibly valuable and learnt some useful strategy's for helping them to cope with their loss. Some very supportive friendships were formed.

"This group can draw its memberships from right across the Northern Rivers,” he said.

The group will meet at Lifeline's Conway St. Centre in Lismore.

Those of adult age, interested in being part of such a group contact Lifeline's Lismore office on (02) 6622 4133.

In further response to the region's high suicide rates, North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) is funding a Lifeline community development Coordinator positions, specifically focusing on suicide prevention in Kempsey, Grafton, Tweed Heads and Lismore.

The Project Coordinator will work collaboratively with local stakeholders and the Local Suicide Prevention Steering Committee, to finalise the development of the Local Suicide Prevention Action Plan (LSPAP) that Lifeline has funding for until June 30, 2020.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for somebody to make a real difference to their own community,” Mr Mulligan said.

"It's great news for Lismore that this position is going to be put in place,”

Mr Mulligan said the likely candidate would need to have experience and qualifications in social service, health promotion or community engagement as well as project management experience and an understanding of Contemporary issues around suicide prevention services.

The job is advertised on Seek or alternatively contact for more information on the position.

LIFELINE Northern Rivers

Counselling Centre: 02 6622 4133

National Services

Lifeline on 13 11 14 | Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978

Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 | Headspace on 1800 650 890

QLife on 1800 184 527