MEMBERS of the Survivors of Suicide (S0S) group made an emotional plea to councillors last Wednesday, in an attempt to take action against the shocking statistics of suicide within the Bass Coast Shire.
With approximately five suicides taking place in nearly as many weeks, the SOS group is exploring the possibility of implementing a treatment and counselling facility within the shire to address the needs of a community struggling with the stigma of mental illness.
At the council community engagement session on Wednesday, July 13, Tanya Worden and Koula Dimopoulos from SOS presented information and statistics to the council, outlining the severity of suicide incidents in the Bass Coast region.
“In 2014 the Victorian road toll was 1153, in comparison to the 3864 deaths by suicide in the state,” Koula said.
“There have been around five suicides within the Phillip Island region within nearly as many weeks. This number is too high, and too shocking.”
The presentation discussed the possibility of implementing a crisis centre in Grantville, with the potential to expand out to Phillip Island and Wonthaggi at a later date.
“We’re looking to create an immediate response unit and service,” Koula said.
“Suicide is a real issue in regional areas. Unfortunately there are not services readily available, and people don’t know where to turn.”
Members of the council appeared to be moved by the staggering statistics of suicide within the Bass Coast Shire, with councillors Neil Rankine and Clare Le Serve congratulating the group on their efforts within the region.
“Good on you for attempting this and for pushing for this service,” Cr Rankine said.
“It is a big ask in regards to asking for a facility.”
The Cowes Medical Centre was raised as a potential future location for the proposed facility.
“There are a number of rooms at the centre that won’t be used for quite some time,” general manager David Elder said.
“Discussions would need to happen with Bass Coast Health. But that is indeed a good example of a potential facility.”
The SOS group hopes to develop a model and turn it into a functioning crisis centre, before taking it to other areas within the shire such as Wonthaggi and Phillip Island, and potentially other shires within the state.
Cr Brad Drew who along with his wife Jillian are members of the SOS group, stated that the entire concept of the group came about thanks to a letter received by the council from a member of the public.
“Council received a letter some time ago identifying the lack of community services in the area regarding suicide,” Cr Drew said.
“This movement has come about directly from the community, and we are responding to it.”
“Hopefully we are able to educate people with the facts and figures, and establish a service. The figures are just alarming,” Koula said.
“Suicide does not just affect the individual, it affects families and the entire community.”
For those seeking information or counselling services, visit www.survivorsofsuicide.com.au, or contact Lifeline on 131 114 or the Suicide Help Line on 1300 651 251.