New suicide prevention and aftercare services in Sydney

04 February 2021
Illustration of people walking and reading a map
We are pleased to be launching two new services in the Sydney area to support people’s recovery after a suicide attempt or suicidal crisis.

Both services are part of the Commonwealth Government’s national roll out of The Way Back Support Service, a model developed by Beyond Blue to provide non-clinical care and practical support to individuals following a suicide attempt or suicidal crisis.

Funded by Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WSPHN), The Way Back Western Sydney will support people referred from Westmead, Auburn, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals.

Funded by Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN), The Way Back Sydney is an expansion of the former Neami National SPconnect service. Launched in 2017, SPconnect has provided suicide aftercare support to over 680 people referred from St Vincent’s, Royal Prince Alfred and Prince of Wales Hospitals. As part of the transition from SPconnect to The Way Back, the service will progressively be expanded to cover the entire CESPHN region and include referrals from St George, Sutherland, Concord and Canterbury Hospitals.

3,313 people took their own lives in Australia in 2019[1], and it is estimated that 65,000 people attempt suicide each year.[2] People who have attempted suicide often experience severe distress in the days and weeks immediately following and are the most at risk of attempting again.

The Way Back Support Service provides non-clinical, tailored support for up to three months following discharge from hospital to support people through this critical risk period. The program uses an assertive aftercare model, where a Support Coordinator maintains contact and uses fast and persistent follow-up and motivational support to reduce distress and build connections in the community.

The program is personalised to meet individual needs and can include everything from help to build a personal safety plan to referrals to community-based services such as financial or relationship counselling, or support accessing clinical care during elevated periods of risk. Support can be provided face-to-face or over the phone.

A recent Australian study showed this kind of coordinated assertive aftercare can reduce suicide attempts by up to 19%.[3] The combination of an evidence-based approach with one-on-one personal support and integration with other services helps keep people motivated to stay connected and alive.

Neami National NSW State Manager Perter Gianfrancesco said “We are delighted to be working in partnership with CESPHN, WSPHN, Beyond Blue and Local Health Districts to bring these services to the community. In western Sydney, the service will be a much-needed addition to existing programs and will support approximately 525 people over the next 18 months. In central and eastern Sydney, the expansion of referral pathways to new hospitals will mean that we are able to support more people who have experienced a suicidal event to find their way back.”

Neami National is delivering The Way Back Sydney in partnership with Sydney LHDSouth Eastern Sydney LHD and St Vincent’s Hospital, and The Way back Western Sydney in partnership with Western Sydney LHD.

To find out more about The Way Back Support Service, visit the Beyond Blue website.


Crisis support

The Way Back Support Service is not a crisis service. People requiring immediate help should call:

  • 000
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

[1] Causes of Death, Australia, 3303.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, October 2019.

[2] Slade, T. et al. (2009) The Mental Health of Australians 2. Report on the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra.

[3] Krysinska, K. et al. “Best strategies for reducing the suicide rate in Australia”. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2016; 50(2):115-118.