Primary care and suicide prevention

Primary is the main source of professional contact in the community seeking assistance. It includes community-based care from generalist services such as general practitioners, Aboriginal medical services, school counsellors and community-based health and welfare services.

GPs often deal with patients who have had suicial thoughts or have presented after a suicide or self-harm attempt. People who have attempted suicide are particularly at-risk of further attempts or a completed suicide. The Living Is For Everyone (LIFE) Framework can help primary care providers respond effectively to people at risk of suicide.

The LIFE Framework is designed to shape and guide suicide prevention activity in Australia, and is supported by:

The LIFE Fact Sheets can help primary care workers to assist a wide cross-section of the community. The set of 24 fact sheets use plain language and cover a range of issues. The fact sheets include:

For more information and resources, try the following:

  • Conduct a library search using the keywords 'primary care'
  • View profiles of National Suicide Prevention Strategy programs
  • Read LIFE News issue 2: primary care
  • Go to the links page

Supporting people at risk

Primary care providers can play a critical role in the prevention of suicide and self-harm. Every year GPs provide more than 10 million mental health consultations and 3.4 million of these are for depression. The following resources can assist in the management of at-risk patients:

Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS)
Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) is a national initiative operated by the Australian General Practice Network, to support GPs in the management of people at-risk of suicide. ATAPS aims to facilitate priority access to referral pathways for GPs by employing allied health professionals to receive specialised training in clinical care.

Bush Crisis Line and Support Services
The Bush Crisis Line and Support Services provides psychological support for health practitioners and their families adjusting to life in remote areas. People seeking assistance can receive free help by calling 1800 805 391.

GP Psych Support
GP Psych Support provides free patient management advice for GPs from a psychiatrist. To access phone 1800 200 588, fax 1800 012 422 or log on to the GP Psych Support website.

Primary Mental Health Care
Primary Mental Health Careis part of the Australian General Practice Network. The site provides access to resources forums and information about Australian Government primary health care programs.

Royal Australian Colleage of General Practitioners
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners mental health page brings together a range of information of interest to general practitioners. It includes guidelines, resources, associations and peer support.

Suicide, QUestions, Answers and REsources (square)
Suicide, QUestions, Answers and REsources (square) is a suicide prevention resource for people who work in primary care. The resource promotes assessment and management of suicide risk in patients in the primary care setting through training programs and follow-up sessions.

Help lines for referral

The following services can be used for the referral of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm:

  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 - free, nation-wide telephone support service for those displaying suicidal behaviour, carers of those at-risk and those bereaved by suicide.
  • Lifeline 13 11 14  - telephone counselling available nationwide for the cost of a local call. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800- a free, confidential and anonymous telephone and online counselling service, specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
  • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 - national telephone support service for men with family or relationship concerns, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    The individual needs of a patient should be matched with the service of an organisation before a referral is given.