Manual of Resources for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention

Welcome to the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

The Manual is a collection of practical resources and tools that people from any background can use to make a real difference in promoting positive mental health and social emotional wellbeing, and preventing suicide in our communities.

It responds to a need that many people have expressed: for simple guidance focused on positive actions that can be taken in a crisis or to address an ongoing issue.

The Manual is organised in three sections:
For individuals, families, Elders and community members
For clinicians and other front-line workers, both Indigenous and mainstream
For Primary Health Networks and other service and commissioning organisations.

Welcome to the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

The Manual is a collection of practical resources and tools that people from any background can use to make a real difference in promoting positive mental health and social emotional wellbeing, and preventing suicide in our communities.

It responds to a need that many people have expressed: for simple guidance focused on positive actions that can be taken in a crisis or to address an ongoing issue.

There is excellent foundational work that addresses the principles of suicide prevention for Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) report sets the standard for good practice in Australia. It draws in turn from ground-breaking Australian and international studies that demonstrate the powerful link between community empowerment, cultural continuity and the social and emotional wellbeing of individual people.

The Gayaa Dhuwi Declaration, a statement about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in mental health, was adapted from the international Wharerata Declaration and is now at the centre of Australia’s policy response to Indigenous people’s poorer psychological wellbeing and higher rates of suicide – including through the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

These principles are critically important, and the Manual translates them into accessible guidance that can be used in all sorts of situations: by a family member struggling with a teenager’s worrying behaviour, a recently-qualified social worker whose client is talking of self-harming, or a Primary Health Network that needs to fund culturally safe services in a community.

We hope that one day everyone will read deeply into the history, philosophy and principles of Indigenous suicide prevention. But for now, many people – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – urgently need to know how to get started, with actions and approaches that have a real potential to save lives.

The Manual is organised in three sections:
For individuals, families, Elders and community members
For clinicians and other front-line workers, both Indigenous and mainstream
For Primary Health Networks and other service and commissioning organisations.

Each section includes downloadable resources, checklists, online decision tools and best practice case studies that support users to respond positively and proportionately in whatever situation they face. The Manual is designed to be used as flexibly as possible. It is optimised for use on mobile phones, as this is what many people use in their work in communities. It also includes lots of downloadable single-page resources, recognising that some people live and work in places without mobile phone reception and may wish to print or store key documents for later use.

These materials have been carefully selected to cover an extensive range of circumstances for many different audiences. Everything that has been included (with a handful of exceptions, clearly labelled) was originally co-designed and developed with Indigenous people for Indigenous people. We thank everyone who has reviewed these resources and helped us refine the work in progress. They are acknowledged here [link].

Because the Manual is an online toolkit, it can live and grow as new resources become available. We look forward to hearing how people have used the Manual, and their suggestions for improving it.

Professor Pat Dudgeon

Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention
School of Indigenous Studies
University of Western Australia

INDIVIDUALS

In this section you’ll find resources that can help you look after your own wellbeing, when life is going smoothly or when things are tough.
If you need immediate support, never hesitate to reach out for professional help:

Emergency Numbers

These tools can help you understand more about mental health, and how to stay well and safe.

Menzies: Brief yarning about staying well (AOD)
Headspace Yarn-safe Alcohol and drugs (for young people)
Head to Health: Supporting Yourself – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

If you’re having a rough time, these tools may be helpful in getting you through. The main thing is to be safe, so if you need professional help call [emergency numbers]

Finding Our Way Back – a resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people after a suicide attempt.
Reachout: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gathering Place (online support forum)
ADAC: Telling your story – getting over grief

FAMILIES, FRIENDS & PEERS

In this section you’ll find resources that can help you look after the wellbeing of the people around you, when life is going smoothly or when things are tough.
If they need immediate support, or if you do, don’t ever hesitate to reach out for professional help.

Emergency Numbers

These tools can help you understand more about mental health, and how to help the people around you stay well and safe.

RUOK Stronger Together Resource Kit
Trauma & Grief Network: How does the past have anything to do with now?

If someone you care about is having a rough time, these tools may be useful to you as you help them through. The main thing is to be safe, so if you need professional help call [emergency numbers]

Yarning if someone is thinking about suicide (NSW)
Proppa Deadly – Radio Interviews about Depression and Anxiety
Lifeline: Coping with Sorrow, Loss and Grief

Losing someone to suicide can raise a whole lot of issues for friends and families. These tools offer guidance to help you get through some of the emotional and practical challenges.

Yarning after a suicide (NSW)
BeYou fact sheets: Suicide in schools – Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families
Lifeline: Coping with Sorrow, Loss and Grief
Coroner’s Court Victoria: The Coroner’s Court and the Koori Community

COMMUNITIES

In this section you’ll find resources that can help you look after the wellbeing of your community, when life is going smoothly or when things are tough.
Whether you’re an Elder, youth worker, teacher or sports coach, you might become aware of issues affecting individuals, families or the whole community. These tools can help you understand how to respond positively to those situations.
If someone needs immediate support, or if you do, don’t ever hesitate to reach out for professional help.

Emergency Numbers

These tools can help you understand more about mental health and wellbeing, and how to help everyone stay well and safe.

Strengthening Our Spirits – Principles and Components
Healing Foundation – Schools Resource Kit
Beyondblue – Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities
Trauma & Grief Network: How does the past have anything to do with now?

These tools can help you promote resilience across your whole community, using people’s strengths to respond to your local priorities and developing skills and strategies.

Yarning about suicide prevention in our community (NSW)
Healing Foundation webinar: Our Healing, Our Future, shaping strategies with our young people
Thirrili: Defining and addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trauma, grief and postvention
Trauma & Grief Network : Strengths for our mob

If your community is experiencing some challenging issues, these tools may be useful to help you respond positively and get everyone involved in developing solutions.
The main thing is to be safe, so if anyone needs professional help call [emergency numbers]

Finding Our Way Back – a resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people after a suicide attempt.
Guidelines for best practice psychosocial assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts (Menzies)
Lifeline: Coping with sorrow, loss and grief
Beyondblue – Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities

Losing people to suicide can raise a whole lot of issues for communities. These tools help you guide your community respectfully through some of the emotional and practical challenges.

Yarning after a suicide (NSW)
BeYou fact sheets: Grief: how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people might respond to suicide
ADAC: What do we tell the children when someone dies?
Coroner’s Court Victoria: The Coroner’s Court and the Koori community

CLINICIANS & FRONT-LINE SERVICES

In this section you’ll find resources that can help you look after the wellbeing of your Indigenous clients and their families, and respond in a culturally safe and appropriate way when life is going smoothly or when things are tough. These resources are intended to give you practical support no matter whether your professional training is as a psychiatrist, psychologist or other clinician, or if you are a social worker, youth worker, peer worker or volunteer.
If someone needs immediate support at a different level than you are trained for, or if you need help yourself, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to someone with the right expertise.

Emergency Numbers

These tools can help you work with communities to keep everyone stay safe, well and thriving.

Strengthening Our Spirits – Principles and Components
Strengthening Our Spirits – The Four Elements
Healing Foundation fact sheet – The Apology
Healing Foundation – Glossary of Healing Terms
Orygen – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and Mental Ill Health
Thirrili: Defining and addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Trauma, Grief and Post-vention

These tools can help you work with communities to promote resilience, using people’s strengths to respond to local priorities and developing skills and strategies.

Yarning about Suicide Prevention in our Community (NSW)
Words for Feelings Map (Ngaanyatjarra or Pitjantjatjara)

Losing someone to suicide can raise a whole lot of issues. These tools can help you support individuals and the community respectfully through some of the emotional and practical challenges.

BeYou fact sheets: Grief: how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people might respond to suicide
Suicide Contagion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People
Sad News, Sorry Business – Caring for Aboriginal people through Death and Dying (QLD)
Thirrili: Defining and addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Trauma, Grief and Post-vention
Australian Health Infonet: Key facts – Grief, Loss and Trauma

PRIMARY HEALTH NETWORKS / FUNDING ORGANISATIONS

In this section you’ll find resources that can help you ensure the services you commission and fund are able to support the wellbeing of Indigenous people in your region in a culturally safe and appropriate way. These resources are intended to help you build positive relationships with Indigenous leaders, communities and organisations, empowering them to meet their people’s needs in partnership with you and enhancing their capacity to deliver strong, sustainable services.

These resources can help you work with communities to ensure your investments match local priorities for keeping people safe, well and thriving.

Indigenous Governance for Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities – A Guide for PHNs
Healing Foundation fact sheet – The Apology
Healing Foundation – Glossary of Healing Terms

These resources can help you invest in strengths and skills so local organisations are equipped to respond to community priorities.

PHN Guidance – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health
Culturally Responsive Aboriginal Health Care Framework Guide (HNECCPHN, NSW)
Cultural Safety Framework (WNSWPHN)
PHN and ACCHO guiding principles (Department of Health)

These resources can help you work with the community to ensure culturally safe and appropriate services – both clinical and non-clinical – are provided for people experiencing acute distress, as well as their families and friends.

Indigenous Governance for Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities – A Guide for PHNs
Implementing Integrated Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities – A Guide to PHNs
Orygen – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and Mental Ill Health

These resources can help you work with local people to ensure culturally safe and appropriate support services are provided for individuals, groups and whole communities who have been bereaved by suicide.

Thirrili: Defining and addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Trauma, Grief and Post-vention

EMERGENCY CONTACTS & CRISIS RESPONSE

If you or someone you know is suicidal or if you are looking for help, please call one of the following national helplines for immediate help:

Lifeline Australia – Call 13 11 14 or Crisis Support Chat

Suicide Call Back Service – Call 1300 659 467 or online counselling

Kids Helpline – Call 1800 551 800 or WebChat counselling

Mens Line Australia – Call 1300 789 978 or online counselling

Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling – Call  1800 011 046 or visit their website

Qlife – LGBTI peer support and referral – Call 1800 184 527 or webchat 3pm to midnight daily

The National Indigenous Critical Response Service – Call 1800 805 801

EXAMPLE RESOURCES

Zero Suicide Toolkit – Zero Suicide – In Health and Behavioural Healthcare
Peer Work Hub – NSW Mental Health Commission – Resources | Peer Work Hub