The World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines on Effective Suicide Prevention Strategies identify leadership as a key factor for success. In a local community, leaders are those who bring others together.
They may be formal or informal leaders - the mayor, police commander, RSL club secretary, spiritual or religious leader, cultural leader, social group organiser, sports coach, business owner, school principal and so on.
Leaders don’t have to have a title or formal position but they are seen as the ‘go-to people’ and know what is going on.
Leaders can use their standing in the community to encourage action on suicide prevention and reinforce the importance of a healthy and inclusive community. Sometimes, they may play a specific role when there has been a suicide.
People with lived experience can make effective leaders, keeping in mind that their safety needs to be considered and that there should be enough distance since their loss for it to be a healthy activity for them. Check with them regularly that they feel comfortable in a leadership role.
- Do the leaders support the action plan?
- How confident are the community leaders about playing a role in suicide prevention?
- Have resources or awareness courses been arranged for leaders?
Information you should keep
- Interviews with and feedback from community leaders
- Reports to leaders from the action group, and any responses from leaders
- Number of awareness courses for leaders and their feedback on these courses
With access to practical information, many people may be empowered to talk about suicide in ways that breaks down stigma and taboos, increase understanding and support those thinking about suicide or who are affected by suicide. The Conversations Matter resource has easy-to-use information for leaders, community members and professionals to support safe and effective discussions about suicide and its prevention.