Lifeline signs could reduce risk at Gap

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
Albany Sea Rescue were part of the search.
Camera IconAlbany Sea Rescue were part of the search. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

An Albany mental health support group says suicide prevention signage, including helpline information, could reduce the number of deaths at high-risk sites such as The Gap.

After two deaths at The Gap in recent weeks, Albany Depression Support Network group president Jo Brown said installing preventive signs at the tourist hotspot could help prevent further deaths.

Similar Lifeline signs were installed at Sydney’s The Gap — a similar cliff-top location.

“I really do think it will make a huge difference,” she said.

“Having a Lifeline sign there could (make you think) to hang on a minute, here’s some hope.”

Ms Brown, who has been working for DSN Albany for more than eight years, said she had received calls from people who were on their way to The Gap.

“When that happened, more often than not, there’s triggers and things that are upsetting them that can be managed,” she said.

After a two-day extensive search, the body of a missing 66-year-old man was found at The Gap on Friday.

A land, sea and air search was held and emergency services located the body at a beach near Jimmy Newells Harbour, south of Albany and east of The Gap.

Ms Brown said a phone call and a chance for people to talk things through at the time of crisis could have and would save lives.

Lifeline WA said it has not received any official request to erect a sign at The Gap; however, a Lifeline study found that preventive suicide measures, such as signs installed at high-risk sites could reduce incidents by more than 90 per cent.

Lifeline Research Foundation executive director Alan Woodward said the research showed the installation of barriers and safety nets at high-risk sites should be an essential part of the Federal Government’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

“Similarly, it found the use of signs and telephones to promote help-seeking, as well as technology to allow for third-party intervention, significantly lowers the number of deaths by suicide,” he said. Albany Sea Rescue Squad operations co-ordinator Chris Johns, who was heavily involved in the rescue operation of two recent deaths at Gap, said any measures that could save a life were worth trialling for.

“I remember the very first person I did CPR on was with a person who took their own life at the Gap,” he said. “I think if there is evidence that a sign has made a difference, then why not.” Albany MP Peter Watson said he would be supportive of an investigation to look into suicide preventive measures at The Gap. “I would be supportive of an investigation into how signage

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