Board of Deputies to launch Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy

Twenty organisations have come together to devise a suicide prevention strategy within the NSW Jewish community.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15-44. Eight people take their own lives in Australia every day, while for every one of those deaths it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their lives.

Julian Leeser MP will be one of three guest speakers at the launch of the Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy (JSPS) at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum next week. The initiative is supported by the JCA.

Mr Leeser, who is Chair of Parliamentary Friends of Suicide Prevention and has suffered a bereavement due to suicide, said: “Our tradition is a life-affirming tradition. G-d asks us to `choose life’, and this initiative will help people to make that choice. I am proud to launch the Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy.”

Julian Leeser MP

The JSPS is a unique community-wide collaboration that brings community organisations, synagogues and Jewish schools together with suicide-prevention organisations in the broader community – the Black Dog Institute, the Eastern Suburbs Suicide Prevention Network and Suicide Prevention Australia.

To this end, JewishCare has employed a part-time Suicide Prevention Co-ordinator to assist its Manager of Mental Health & Wellbeing to implement the strategy.The initiative was the brainchild of a JewishCare specialist in mental health, who invited Woollahra Councillor Isabelle Shapiro to chair the JSPS. Shapiro, a Deputy on the Board of Deputies and former vice-chair of the Eastern Suburbs Suicide Prevention Network, chairs Woollahra Council’s Community Safety Committee and initiated  the award-winning Gap Park Master Plan for suicide prevention.

Cr Isabelle Shapiro OAM

“It gives me great pride to see our community being proactive in reducing suicide rates and implementing a best-practice strategy that will be culturally-specific and age-specific,” she said. “The JSPS will  raise awareness and educate and empower individuals in the community to recognise the signs of people at-risk, what to say to them and where to refer them for help.”

Leeser and Shapiro will be joined by Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) Chair Matthew Tukaki, who said: “Suicide prevention is very personal to me. I am motivated by the resilience shown by the Australians I meet each day. Congratulations to the Board of Deputies for taking action to prevent suicide. It is pleasing to see the work of SPA organisations reflected in the Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy’s approaches and activities. We can make a difference. Thank you for contributing to our collective effort to support more Australians to live.”

Board of Deputies President Jeremy Spinak said the organisation “is pleased to be a partner in this vital initiative and we look forward to working with our 19 partners to ensure the strategy is implemented successfully. We are grateful to the JCA for supporting this program.”

The Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy launch will be hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies next Tuesday March 20 at 7:30pm in Darlinghurst. All welcome.

Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy partners:
Australian Zionist Youth Council
Black Dog Institute -Lifespan
Eastern Suburbs Suicide Prevention Network
Emanuel School
Emanuel Synagogue
Jewish House
Kesser Torah College
Masada College
Moriah College
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NSW)
North Shore Temple Emanuel
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
Our Big Kitchen
Rabbinical Council of NSW
Shalom College
Suicide Prevention Australia

If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, call 000 or Hatzolah on 9371 222 or the contacts below:  

24/7 Crisis Services
Lifeline 13 11 14
Jewish House 1300 544 357
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Support Services
JewishCare 1300 133 660
Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636