How communities have saved lives

Posted 8 months ago by David McManus
Wesley LifeForce has provided suicide prevention training to more than 40,000 people in communities across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia. [Source: Shutterstock]
Wesley LifeForce has provided suicide prevention training to more than 40,000 people in communities across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia. [Source: Shutterstock]

Content warning: this article contains references to suicide, mental health and self-harm

Key points:

  • Australia had an average of nine deaths attributed to suicide each day in 2021
  • Wesley LifeForce was established in 1995 by Rev Bob Dunlop, a former Minister of Wesley Mission, in response to the growing number of youth suicides in Australia
  • The number of deaths attributed to suicide in 2021 — 3,144 — was 2.5 times that of the national road toll


Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day — September 10, 2023 — Wesley LifeForce has been hard at work to reduce the suicide rate by seven percent on average, according to the University of Melbourne.

The theme of this year’s Prevention Day is ‘We all have a role to play,’ over 60 countries taking part in stigma reduction, advocacy and support. Over 10 million Australians are affected by suicide and the Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks are community-led networks of people and organisations, working together in local areas and in at-risk populations and communities. 

Wesley Mission Chief Executive Officer Stu Cameron said statistics about suicide can be quite confronting.

“Behind every number is the life of a loved one whose loss leaves families, friends, workplaces and communities devastated,” he said.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to prevent suicide. We can all make a difference by having real conversations with friends and neighbours, acknowledging the factors that increase suicidal risk and empowering local people with local solutions in urban, suburban, regional and remote locations across Australia.”

The Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks have continued to offer support and resources to communities, helping to prevent suicide by focusing on prevention, intervention and postvention activities. This is coupled with the Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Training workshops for community members and healthcare professionals.

Cameron explained that suicide prevention is a shared responsibility across the community, including families and friends, professional groups, Government and non-Government agencies.  Half of all people who die by suicide have not connected with the health system and have a level of psychosocial disconnection.

“Regardless of our job title or postcode, most of us know someone impacted by suicide; we cannot work in isolation — we must collaborate to support the resilience of Australian communities. Together, we can make a real difference,” he added.

“Until there are zero deaths by suicide, Wesley LifeForce will continue to advocate, educate and empower local communities to support people impacted by suicide.”

The Wesley Lifeforce Suicide Prevention Network program was established in 2007 and has grown to launch more than 130 local community groups across Australia, in areas of greatest suicide risk.

“With this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day theme of ‘Creating hope through action,’ it’s crystal clear Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks are a powerful testimony to that,” he concluded.


Have you been affected by the loss of someone close to you? If you or someone you love may be at risk of a mental health crisis or needs to speak about their well-being, please contact the following supports:


13YARN — 13 92 76

24 Hour Mental Health Line — 1800 011 511

Emergency — 000

Lifeline — 13 11 14

QLife — 1800 184 527

Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467


For more information about psychosocial disability and mental health support, please visit the Disability Support Guide information guides online or subscribe to the Talking Disability newsletter.