ACT News

Mental health course to help prevent suicide in Mr Fluffy victims

A Canberra suicide prevention hotline has launched an education program to help prevent those traumatised by the Mr Fluffy crisis from taking their own lives.

The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training or ASIST will help Canberrans recognise when someone may be at risk of suicide, teach them how to reach out to them and ensure their safety,  Lifeline Canberra chief officer Carrie-Ann Leeson said.

There were 200 spots open for the two-day course but more than 80 per cent of places have been snapped up since it was announced on Thursday, she said.

"The way I like to describe it is [the course] is to mental health what CPR training is to physical health. It's basically upskilling someone in the worst possible scenario with a mental health situation," she said.

The course - funded by Lifeline Canberra and NRMA Insurance - is designed to help "build resilience" in the Canberra community.

But you don't necessarily have to be a Mr Fluffy homeowner to benefit from it.

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"I think most people in Canberra know someone who's been affected by the Mr Fluffy issue," Ms Leeson said.

"It's very important to acknowledge hundreds of homeowners have come through this process successfully and they're moving on and making the best of the situation at hand.

"[Who] we're looking to support the hundreds of homeowners who weren't prepared when they were hit with the news they were living in a Mr Fluffy house.

"The impact on their health and their family's health, the impact on their finances, the issues that they're feeling around loss of the family home, memories, heirlooms et cetera, that all links in and affects someone emotionally. That's the impact we're looking to support people through and address."

As with the aftermath of the 2003 bushfires, Ms Leeson said these impacts may not subside with time. 

She said the number of calls to Lifeline spiked as the community reeled from the loose-fill asbestos crisis and the demand continues to climb.

"While the procedural and practical elements of the Mr Fluffy crisis have been put to bed, the ongoing  emotional impact is something we're still supporting hundreds of people through," Ms Leeson said.

"We're still supporting hundreds of homeowners and people in the community affected by this, even neighbours, schools and workplaces who are trying to support these individuals as well."

To secure your place in the suicide prevention course, please call Lifeline Canberra on 6171 6300.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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