Teachers to help reduce suicide risk

The next generation of teachers at La Trobe University in Bendigo are being given specialist training in how to deal with young regional Victorians at risk of suicide.

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In what is thought to be a first in Australia, final year Bachelor of Physical and Health Education and Bachelor of Education (Primary/Secondary Education) students will undertake a two day specialist work shop on suicide intervention and caregiving at the Bendigo Campus of La Trobe.

Bachelor of Physical and Health Education coordinator Cathleen Farrelly said that students would learn how to recognise when someone might be at risk of suicide, as well as how to respond in ways that increase their immediate safety and link them to further help.

‘When a teenager is having suicidal thoughts, teachers are often among the first to notice warning signs,’ she said.

‘We and our community partners think that it is important this next generation of teachers be given the skills to best identify and deal with the risk of suicide. It is a significant issue facing Central Victoria. It’s also an issue in many of the rural and regional communities that La Trobe University graduates work in.’

A 2010 Senate report found that rates of suicide and suicide attempts were higher in rural and remote Australia, with very remote regions having suicide rates more than double that of major capital cities.

The two day workshops have been organised by Strategem Community Foundation, Lifeline Central Victoria & Mallee and the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. They will be run by Lifeline and LivingWorks Australia.

Lifeline Central Victoria & Mallee CEO Leo Schultz said that there was a need for communities to act together to become suicide safe.

‘Training undergraduate education students just prior to going into schools is an ideal way spread important, life-saving skills. This program will go a long way to looking after our young people and make our schools and communities more resilient,’ Mr Schultz said.

Strategem Community Foundation has donated $5000 to pay training costs for each participant.

‘This is a collaborative community lead approach. La Trobe University has provided the venue and facilities, Lifeline Central Victoria & Mallee the expertise and Strategem Community Foundation the funding,’ said Foundation Chairman Kevin Martin.

‘It’s a great example of how communities can take on the responsibility of protecting our most important asset, our children.’

ENDS

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