Preventing suicide among older men

Anglicare is working to address the high rates of suicide among older men.

Not-for-profit aged care and community services provider Anglicare is working to address the high rates of suicide among older men, which are significantly higher than other groups.

Australian men aged 85 and over have the highest rate of suicide in the country.  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, men 85-plus have suicide rates more than three times the average rate.

Anglicare has established a national free suicide training program that aims to equip those working with or caring for older people – such as aged care workers, allied health workers, and retirement living staff – to recognise the signs of suicidality.

Suicide Prevention for Seniors – the only program of its kind in Australia – has trained more than 4,400 people since it began in September 2021.

People who participate in the online program are taught to:

  • see the signs of suicidality
  • have conversations with empathy
  • ask questions to ascertain the level of risk
  • assist the person to seek professional support.
Nancy Gewargis

“We have had such good feedback from participants saying this training has empowered them to effectively support the older people they work with,” said Anglicare program manager Nancy Gewargis. “Each person we train will come across many people to assist. This program is having a positive impact on so many lives.”

Julie is a senior advisor at McKenzie Aged Care. Having participated in the program she said: “I have referred this on to my organisation … managers should attend to enable them to educate all staff working in aged care.”

Karen – a residential in-reach registered nurse at Bass Coast Health in Victoria – has also completed the three-hour workshop. “This [training] has made me reflect in both a personal and professional sense about the challenges facing older people and how I can be more responsive and resourceful,” she said.

Lesley – a home care manager at Baldwin Living – thinks the suicide prevention program should be compulsory for all those who work in aged care. “It should be a mandatory training competency for all aged care workers in the sector.”

Funded by the New South Wales and federal governments, the online program is free. People wishing to participate can register either individually or as a group here.

World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on 10 September

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Tags: anglicare, suicide prevention,

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