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A NATIONAL report has highlighted an area of concern for Wimmera agencies.
Kids Helpline statistics show suicide-related calls to the helpline have risen 22 per cent since 2012. Last year, suicide-related calls from children and young people aged 5 to 25 made up 16 per cent of all counselling contacts.
The report also showed there were significantly higher rates of suicide among people living in rural and remote areas. Suicide is now the leading cause of death of children and young people in Australia, accounting for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents.
headspace Horsham Centre Manager Liz Rowe said the helpline statistics were quite alarming.
“I'm particularly concerned with the figures relating to calls from regional and remote areas,” she said.
“The report shows in 2017, 22 per cent of calls relating to suicide were from young people living in rural and remote areas, compared with 18 per cent from major cities.
“It's really important as a community that we look out for our friends and family by supporting them where we can, and refer them to professional help where appropriate.
“It's also important that you take care of yourself when your supporting a friend. Talk to someone you trust or seek professional help yourself if you need it.”
Grampians Community Health direct care programs manager Kath Heading said young people were the future, and how communities supported them affected the vibrancy and sustainability of rural regional communities.
“I suspect that the area’s mental health services probably don’t have as many resources as they could do with, and still manage to do a great job as best they can,” she said.
“There could be far greater supports for young people in terms of funding for face-to-face services.
“Grampians Community Health provides a state-funded youth alcohol and other drug program and a school-focused youth service program. We will always see young people as part of our primary care counselling program, a free service.
“However we aren’t funded specifically to have youth-focused clinicians that are trained to specifically work with young people in this program.
“Additional things that could help in this area would include resourcing early intervention and primary prevention programs, and building capacity in rural remote regional areas for mentors and other supports for young people too.”
Grampians Community Health chief executive Greg Little said the report brought to the forefront an issue that was hard to talk about, but critical to address in a way that identified solutions and not just problems.