Growing calls for crisis centre

Sam Brunskill had joined calls for a dedicated mental health centre.

Sam Brunskill had joined calls for a dedicated mental health centre.

One of Wagga’s young entrepreneurs has joined calls for a dedicated mental health centre to combat spike in suicide.

The alarming story of a suicidal Wagga woman’s six-hour emergency department (ED) wait came after it was revealed the Riverina was one of NSW’s most at-risk regions for self-harm.

Brunslea Park general manager Sam Brunskill, who also has bi-polar disorder, said there was an urgent need for a safe place where people could get help.

“It’s OK to have services (like beyondblue’s NewAccess) but if someone’s suicidal it’s usually happening out of standard business hours,” Ms Brunskill said.

“A community centre is a great idea because they might not know who to call, or what they’re going to do – they might feel like they have no control over their actions.

“With a centre there’s a physical place for them to get the help they need and they’ll be attracted to it.”

Through her ‘Embrace’ support group, Ms Brunskill learned there were several areas where mental health services were lacking.

“I was giving a talk three months ago and a woman said she went to the ED when she was highly suicidal and asked for help finding a psychiatrist but there was a waiting list of six months or more,” she said.

“In that frame of mind there’s a short turnaround to get help before it gets worse.”

Griffith Suicide Prevention and Support Group’s Val Woodland said people in crisis needed “real help in real time” and thought a dedicated ‘mental health ED’ could be a solution.

“There are scarce resources and people with physical ailments need to be seen straight away, so sometimes people with a mental health problem can be deemed to be less urgent,” she said.

“Even just having a volunteer to sit with them and reassure them would be good.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please call:

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Griffith Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1300 133 911

MensLine – 1300 789 978

beyondblue 1300 224 636

- The Daily Advertiser