A key initiative of the Project has been to engage Community Consultants as short-term members of the Project team with the aim of developing culturally appropriate suicide awareness training. Community consultants from the Bhutanese, South Sudanese, Chinese, Congolese, Hazara and Burmese Chin communities received a range of suicide prevention training. Using a participatory action research approach, the consultants interviewed community members about their perceptions of suicide, warning signs, risk and protective factors, help-seeking and recommendations for service providers. The findings informed the development of a suicide awareness training session, delivered by the consultant, providing skills and knowledge relevant and accessible to community members.
The Project is producing a DVD which tells the stories of five people from Sri Lanka, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan and Australia, four of whom have experienced suicidal ideation and a fifth, who supported someone at risk of suicide. The film focuses on how these people managed their suicidal thoughts, their help seeking behaviours, and what they do to remain mentally healthy and engage with life. The DVD will be a useful resource for service providers and community members to develop a greater awareness of the impact of culture on suicidal ideation and recovery pathways.
Community Connections is providing stigma reduction workshops to YMEP (Youth Migrant English Program) students. The workshops will be conducted in collaboration with Working it Out to include an LGBTIQ perspective and will include SafeTALK training facilitated by LifeLine.
The workshops explore the stigma that surrounds suicide, mental illness and the CALD/LGBTIQ community and reduce its negative impact. Mental Health information which is meaningful to people from CALD backgrounds is important as they are less likely than those born in Australia to access mainstream mental health services.
Collaboration with other services is an important feature of the Project’s work and R U OK? Day is a key example of this. On September 12 last year, the Project hosted 200 people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Hobart for activities and ‘conversations that could change a life’.
Along with other members of the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network, we are planning for a larger, state-wide, whole of community RU OK? Day event(s) this year.
Whilst the project has had many successes, there have been challenges along the way. An on-going challenge is the engagement of mainstream service providers, including some Suicide Prevention organisations, to provide culturally appropriate strategies in their training packages.
A persistent and widespread stigma around suicide, mental health issues and LGBTIQ issues within many of our newer communities creates barriers to education and acceptance of proven help seeking behaviours.
However, the Project has achieved many positive outcomes including:
- Supporting the Bhutanese Community of Tasmania to build skills and knowledge in suicide prevention, leading to the community being awarded a Tasmanian Life award.
- Encouraging awareness in suicide prevention organisations about the need to make their training culturally relevant.
- Highlighting the ongoing need for service providers and suicide prevention organisations to use interpreters effectively and to provide translated materials
- Raising awareness of the needs of CALD communities in relation to suicide at a national level through presentations at national conferences.
As the LIFE framework states:
‘Culture shapes people’s view of suicide; different cultures understand suicide and suicidal thinking in different ways’; ‘People from different cultures interpret suicidal experiences through a range of cultural, spiritual and religious understandings’.