Texts help to tar­get sui­cide risk

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Danielle Jarvis DAN­GER Cross­ing hazard

A TEXT mes­sage could be used as a fol­low-up treat­ment for those strug­gling with thoughts of self-harm or sui­cide.

The SMS SOS project will be tri­alled at Black­town, West­mead and Ne­pean hos­pi­tals over two years.

The trial comes on the back of new Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics fig­ures that re­vealed 3027 Aus­tralians took their lives in 2015 – a 5.4 per cent in­crease on 2014.

Chair­man of be­yond­blue Jeff Ken­nett said the stag­ger­ing num­ber was a “na­tional dis­grace”. “The 2015 to­tal is 2½ times the na­tional road toll and six times the num­ber of Aus­tralian lives lost in the Viet­nam War,” he said.

West­ern Syd­ney Local Health Dis­trict men­tal health direc­tor Beth Kotze said there were about 230 pre­sen­ta­tions each year at Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal for sui­ci­dal thoughts or sui­cide at­tempts.

“This is one of the low­est rates of self-harm pre­sen­ta­tions to emer­gency de­part­ments in the state,” she said.

Ms Kotze said the SMS SOS project aimed to pro­vide more im­me­di­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tion, es­pe­cially with young peo­ple who present at hos­pi­tal with sui­ci­dal thoughts or self-harm ten­den­cies. “The project builds on ear­lier work ... which showed promis­ing re­sults when peo­ple were con­tacted by post­card after at­tend­ing the ED,” she said.

The theme of the Oc­to­ber Men­tal Health Month is Learn and Grow.

Jeff Ken­nett.

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