A landmark new service which aims to tackle the critical issue of youth suicide is on track to open in October this year.
The Youth Sanctuary – a service delivered by Ruah Community Services and Samaritans WA, co-designed and evaluated by Telethon Kids Institute – will help save lives by providing early intervention support for young people aged between 16 and 24 who are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA, Minister for Health and Mental Health, Lindsay Hale, Acting Mental Health Commissioner, local member Dr Katrina Stratton MLA and Lee Grmas from Lotterywest visited Samaritans this week to present service partners Ruah, Samaritans WA and Telethon Kids Institute with $508,000 Lotterywest funding which will cover refurbishment of the new residential service premises. The State Government has provided nearly $3 million funding to pilot the innovative and much-needed service.
The Youth Sanctuary will support up to 300 young people and their families each year, relieving stress from the State’s mental health services and saving young lives.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people in Western Australia, surpassing even the number of young people who die on our roads. Telethon Kids Institute research has shown that one in two young people who die by suicide had no known mental health disorder.
Based on the Maytree UK model, the Youth Sanctuary is being established in response to the growing mental health crisis and limited services currently available for young people and their families in WA. Research out of the UK has shown that similar treatment models have resulted in a significant reduction in thoughts of suicide for people who received support.
The Youth Sanctuary will be the first of its kind in WA and will offer non-medical, residential support for young people who are experiencing suicidal ideation. Up to five young people at a time will receive short term (maximum of four nights) intensive, round-the-clock support by a team of trained staff, including a clinical psychologist, support coordinators, Peer workers and support counsellors.
Zrinka Highfield, Chief Executive Officer of Samaritans WA said the early intervention approach would make an immeasurable impact on young people and their families.
“When families are seeking help for a young person experiencing suicidal thoughts it can be very hard to know where to turn to,”Zrinka said. “Mental health services are stretched and hospital emergency departments can be busy, confronting environments. The Youth Sanctuary will provide support for young people before they reach crisis point. They won’t need a medical mental health diagnosis to attend, and they can refer themselves.”
The Youth Sanctuary’s Subiaco site is currently undergoing upgrades to make it fit for purpose before the service becomes operational in October this year. Referrals are expected to be accepted from September.