6 November 2012
Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler has announced a phone line funded by the Australian Government will operate 24 hours a day to provide urgent assistance to people at risk of suicide who are participating in the Access to Allied Psychological Services program (ATAPS).
Mr Butler said the telephone counselling service is available through the ATAPS suicide support line at any time of the night or day, seven days a week including public holidays and complements other phone counselling services.
“This is a little different from services like Lifeline because it is designed to support clients and clinicians that are part of our ATAPS suicide prevention service which helps those who have been identified as ‘at risk’ of suicide and are receiving psychological services.”
“It’s been very successful as an ‘after-hours’ service, for example where a clinician wants contact to be made with a client over the weekend when they can’t physically see them, but it’s become clear there is a need for this support during business hours,” Mr Butler said.
“Now people who are known to be at risk of suicide can also talk to someone urgently during business hours, even if their psychologists are busy with other clients.”
The support line is available to clients of ATAPS Suicide Prevention Services which were rolled out nationally from 1 July 2011 and can be contacted on 1800 859 585.
“Most calls to the support line are from existing ATAPS Suicide Prevention Services clients who need help and are generally calling from their home, but mental health workers, doctors and Medicare Locals officers can ask for a call to be made to a client that they’ve referred to the suicide prevention service.”
“Emergency department staff have also used the service useful to follow up with a person who has been discharged on a weekend after a suicide attempt or self-harm incident.”
ATAPS Suicide Prevention Services provide people at risk of suicide or self-harm, including those who have attempted suicide, with unlimited access to psychological services for up to two months.
In addition to this specialised service, there is also a general Suicide Call Back Service funded by the Australian Government which provides counselling to people at risk of suicide, their carers and people bereaved by suicide, which can be contacted on 1300 659 467.
And Lifeline is contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 13 11 14.