Suicide in Australia is a significant phenomenon.
There are approximately 44,000 individual suicide attempts per annum and 7 deaths per day (ABS, 2011) in Australia.
This means it’s not hard to appreciate the challenges it creates. The severity of suicide is further highlighted in the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health and Wellbeing Survey 2007 which indicated 2.3% of persons aged 16-85 had serious thoughts of suicide in the previous 12 months prior to the survey.
The problem has become so big that the Australian Government has developed a national suicide prevention strategy and organisations such as Lifeline and Beyond Blue field hundreds of calls per day seeking assistance for prevention strategies while another government-funded service called Standby renders postvention care to hundreds managing the fallout of suicide most if not all General practice settings service patients on a daily basis that are confronted with managing suicidal ideation.
The clinic staff and in particular the GP needs to have a dynamic skill set and knowledge base to enhance the positive outcomes in combatting the suicidal patient. General practitioners are often the first port of call for the suicidal patient and see up to 90% of all mental health clients. GPs are a safe stigma-free option for individuals experiencing suicidal ideation and or mental illness.
GPs and their ancillary staff should have a basic toolkit to manage such presentations as for many it could be a case of life or death. This training provides the general practice staff (inclusive of the GPs) with a toolkit of skills and knowledge to detect and manage suicidal ideation to assist the appropriate sequencing of care to ensure patient safety is maximised.