Training to cut Bundaberg suicide rate

MORE than 130 Bundaberg nurses and doctors will soon have the tools they need to stop vulnerable residents making deadly choices.

Attempted suicide is a massive health problem for the city.

Hospital emergency department staff treated 304 patients who had self-harm injuries between May 31 last year and June 1 this year.

Feeling down? Need to talk? Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

The NewsMail recently revealed 98 people took their own lives between 2009 and 2012.

The training, to be rolled out over the next 12 months, will help first responders better recognise, assess and manage people at risk of suicide.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service's Robyn Bradley said the State Government-funded training would be developed by the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning.

""Emergency departments can be the first place that some people with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health conditions present to when in a crisis situation," Ms Bradley said.

"The Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service is committed to a number of strategies that address the issue of early suicide intervention in our communities."

Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention acting director Professor John O'Gorman said many patients did not get the medical help they needed.

"(This training) can make the difference between life and death," Prof O'Gorman said.

"We know that up to 75% of victims of suicide have sought help in the lead-up to the fatal event, but the assessment of their situation at the time has been inadequate.

"A large part of the task of suicide prevention then is to have frontline staff deal effectively with potential suicides when they first present and emergency departments are well placed to do this."

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Sue Murray said staff and patients would benefit from specialist training.

"First responders to suicide and suicide attempts are exposed to high-risk, stressful and challenging situations and need to be trained and supported to manage their own needs as well as the needs of those they respond to," she said.



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