LifeConnect process evaluation: suicide awareness lived experience learnings 

05 July 2024
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Connection is key to compassionate responses to suicide. That much is clear from lived and learned evidence.  

For the past five years, connection has been at the heart of Neami’s LifeConnect, which has centred lived experience perspectives and evolved into a majority lived experience-staffed service. 

A process evaluation of LifeConnect shows what’s possible when working with communities and taking a humanising approach to suicide. 

Between 2019 and 2024, LifeConnect offered a suite of workshops and activities across eastern Melbourne.  

A postvention service within the team also provided support for people bereaved by suicide until 2022. 

The range of activities on offer gave people multiple opportunities to connect with the service, allowing them to develop understanding of how to respond to suicide and distress with connection, curiosity, and empathy. 

This approach was practical, empowering, and encouraged genuine human connection – something anyone is capable of. 

The lived experience perspectives shared by the team also challenged stigma and misunderstanding around suicide. 

“So often suicide is not so dark and down all the time. It’s so much more than that. I think people forget that people who experience suicidality also love, they feel excitement, they feel joy, they have connection. They have all these other wonderful parts of themselves, but we reduce them to this experience.”  

– LifeConnect staff member 

Maintaining an active and ongoing presence in community was vital to LifeConnect’s success. Building trust and relationships allowed the team to become embedded within the community and meet community needs. 

“Sometimes I think suicide prevention doesn’t quite capture it because that’s almost a bit limiting… it’s a lot more than that to me. It’s that wellbeing. They’re building the wellbeing of our community”.  

– Service stakeholder 

“They’re open to new ideas and adjusting their programs to suit the community need… My life would be extremely difficult if LifeConnect weren’t there.”  

– Service stakeholder 

The LifeConnect approach to working with community takes time, care and courage. What’s clear is that by centring human connection, we can all develop humble, curious and compassionate approaches to suicidality. 

Sadly, LifeConnect permanently closed on 30 June 2024 due to funding constraints.  

The LifeConnect team would like to acknowledge the many stakeholders and partners who have worked alongside them and contributed to the development of a shared understanding and response to suicide in the community. 

The LifeConnect process evaluation and sustaining lived experience workforces documents will be available shortly. To request a copy via email, please email research@neaminational.org.au