Creating Connections that Can Change Lives - the Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 13th January 2018
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The CBAA’s Suicide Prevention Program' has recently been expanded, with a stronger focus on promoting support for young people at risk.

Connecting young people and those who care about them to support will be a core part of the project in the coming years, with funding for this highly successful broadcasting initiative recently extended until June 2019.

Suicide Prevention Australia Deputy CEO Kim Borrowdale said that having CBAA’s support to reach a diverse cross -section of communities is invaluable to their organisation and its members, and provides an effective way of addressing common myths and misconceptions surrounding suicide.

“Getting messages about suicide prevention and mental health out through a medium like community radio helps not only to correct some of the more common misunderstandings, but also encourages everyday Australians to contribute to building a national community that knows how to get help and give help,” says Borrowdale.

This is reflected in evaluations of the program, which show that listeners feel the content has raised their awareness of mental health issues, informed them of local mental health services and contact details and encouraged them to make better lifestyle choices and seek help where needed.

The project also plays a key role in continuing safe and best-practice conversations about suicide and mental illness in communities around Australia. Sara Bartlett, project leader of the Mindframe National Media Initiative, said that starting conversations about mental illness and suicide assists communities in talking about these topics in ways that break down stigmas and increases understanding and support for those thinking about suicide or affected by suicide.

“Providing the community with content that is both protective in language and encourages help-seeking behaviours is vital in reducing the stigma attached to getting assistance when needed.”

For ReachOut Australia, the project provides a unique opportunity to connect with young people, particularly in regional and rural Australia.

“Through the program, we’ve been able to bring focus to issues such as how families can support their teenagers through exam stress and how young people can get help for tough times - particularly when they live in regional areas and don’t have the same access to help as young people in cities,” said ReachOut’s Doug Millen.

“It’s a simple but high-impact way to connect audiences around the country with valuable help information about mental health.”

Importantly, the project also meets the needs of community broadcasters around Australia by providing them with best practice information that can inform meaningful local discussion about suicide prevention. Kevin Ellis from 7TFM in Tasmania said they use the project material to support the prevention message in their local area and “aid community chat”.

“The Suicide Prevention Program has been well received, with one father of a lost son stating that he wished he had seen the signs earlier, but who went on to champion the suicide cause and raise much needed funds for the cause Doing Life Together,” said Kevin.

“As a smaller area, suicide is something every volunteer has been touched by and they love to work towards stamping it out.”

The Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Program is a Community Education Project of the CBAA. For more information, please visit www.cbaa.org.au/community-education-programs/ or email iwatson@cbaa.org.au

This article was originally published in the November 2017 edition of CBX Magazine.

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