When community leaders contacted me with their concerns about rising levels of distress following recent suicides in the Central West, I resolved to meet face-to-face with the people on the ground so that together we could find ways to tackle local issues head-on.
Thanks to Mayor Reg Kidd, next month I will host a round table which will bring together crisis organisations and mental health clinicians to share ideas and discuss what is and isn't working for the local community.
Front and centre on the agenda will be suicide prevention, service collaboration, communication and aftercare support.
We have an incredibly dedicated and hardworking mental health workforce across the region.
From our fantastic community mental health teams in Orange, Parkes, Forbes and Condobolin to our Rural Adversity and Mental Health Program (RAMHP) coordinators, farm gate counsellors and many others.
Each individual and team works tirelessly to support the mental health and wellbeing of people across the Central West, every day.
These people are the voices from the front line and the voices of the communities they support.
They will be absolutely key around the round table.
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The conversations will inform our local responses and my intent is that we will get some strong positive outcomes around suicide prevention, better service coordination and supporting people who have been through a suicidal crisis.
Every death by suicide is a tragedy that touches the whole community, and it is important that we discuss it in the right way.
Having looked into the local data, I want to reassure the community that there has not been an increase in suicides in the Orange or Central West communities.
We know young people are struggling.
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We know there are a lot of issues they have to deal with but, first and foremost, I want to make sure that everyone knows that support services are available and how to reach out to them when they or someone they know is struggling to cope with life.
We also know that the mental health consequences of traumatic events aren't immediate, there is what clinicians call a 'tail'.
That is to say that issues usually manifest a year later - so acting now is the right thing to do.
We know that the complexity and impact of suicide requires responses at all levels of the community, which is why we are building a web of safety within and around our communities.
I also want to make sure that the conversations at the round table are not kept behind closed doors, which is why I am pledging to share the content of the discussions with the community.
Together, we can make a real difference.
Bronnie Taylor is the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women
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