Suicide register will help reduce the deaths, former police officer, Lifeline say

LIVES LOST: A suicide register will help reduce the number of deaths, a former police officer and Lifeline say. Photo: FILE
LIVES LOST: A suicide register will help reduce the number of deaths, a former police officer and Lifeline say. Photo: FILE

LIVES could be saved if the NSW Government introduced a suicide register, a former police officer and Lifeline say.

Each year around 3000 Australians die by suicide, but often the Coroner's cause of death determination can take up to two years before it's finalised and information reaches support workers.

On average each suicide effects 135 people and tragically these types of deaths can occur in clusters.

In his 22 years as a police officer Phil Donato was called out to many suicides and he said often the cause of death is immediately obvious that is was intentional self harm.

Protocol for officers is that they log that death in their computer within 24 hours, but the Coroner has the final say on cause of death and this determination can take up to two years.

CHANGES NEEDED: A suicide register would help provide targeted support services for those left behind, former police officer and now Orange MP Phil Donato. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

CHANGES NEEDED: A suicide register would help provide targeted support services for those left behind, former police officer and now Orange MP Phil Donato. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

"It's not providing contemporary, up-to-date information for agencies and government to address the issue timely," Mr Donato said of the delay.

"We need something that's a much more streamlined process."

In his current role as Orange MP, Mr Donato has been calling on the implementation of a suicide register in NSW to help get support services where they are needed straight away.

"Queensland has a register, which incorporates data collated by police, health and the Coroner, which helps to provide more current suicide data," he told NSW Parliament in June.

"A suicide register has merit and utility for a more timely and targeted response to suicide."

HELP IS THERE: Immediate support would help to reduce psychological trauma among those left grieving, Lifeline Central West chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson. Photo: SUPPLIED

HELP IS THERE: Immediate support would help to reduce psychological trauma among those left grieving, Lifeline Central West chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson. Photo: SUPPLIED

Mr Donato told Australian Community Media that a register could immediately identify suicide clusters.

"Every day it's delayed is more people dying," he said.

"I think as a government we've been very slow to react to this issue."

Lifeline chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson agreed that support services could be better targeted if they knew about suicides much earlier.

"It would be good to have the register so that immediate support was available to help people," she said.

"It'd be great to link in with police and to be offering that support to families at the time and go with them [police] when they tell that family [about the death].

"It would help to minimise the psychological trauma."

Ms Robinson there have been two small towns in the Central West that have been heavily impacted by suicide this year and Lifeline has been working to support those left grieving.

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This story Suicide register will help reduce the deaths first appeared on Lithgow Mercury.