From today, Australia’s universities will have access to an evidence-informed toolkit that will help them keep their communities safe and supported following a death by suicide.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said:
“Suicide is a difficult subject for most of us to discuss and the impact on those touched by it – families, friends and communities – is immediate and shocking.”
“The effect on a university community is no different. It often happens unexpectedly and leaves staff and students with many questions about what to do next.”
“This new toolkit provides clear, practical guidance for universities in managing such a traumatic event in the weeks and months following a death,” Ms Jackson added.
Universities Australia will collaborate with headspace and Everymind, the leading national institute dedicated to reducing mental ill-health and suicide, to deliver online training to the sector in October and November 2020.
This training is for senior leaders with responsibility for a university’s response to a suicide, such as Deputy Vice-Chancellors, leaders in student life/experience, and communications directors.
Participants will be provided with specialist advice on developing institutional suicide response plans, the appropriateness of language and how to communicate about a suicide.
headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said: “When a death by suicide occurs in any community the impacts are immediate and traumatic. Over many years, headspace has worked with school communities right across Australia to support them in the event of a suicide.
“This crucial work, undertaken all year round, helps schools and the communities surrounding them to manage risk and ensure young people, parents, families and teachers are well supported to get through these times.”
“The work headspace does has become critical to communities and we’re proud to begin the process in extending this further with the development of the toolkit designed for Australia’s universities.”
“This is an important step to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in the university community, whether they are students or staff.”
Everymind Acting Director Professor Carmel Loughland added: “Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and through open and honest conversations, university communities can contribute to raising awareness, breaking down stigma and myths associated with suicide.”
“Prevention starts with using safe, non-stigmatising language and having a supportive plan in place.
“This training empowers university communities to navigate instances of suicide, while minimising potential impact to vulnerable community members and promoting and providing help-seeking pathways.”
UA, headspace and Everymind will continue to collaborate on ways to promote and protect positive mental health and wellbeing in university communities. Suicide prevention and mental health literacy resources will be released to the sector in 2021.