Mackay’s Grapevine Group is making an online suicide prevention training program available for free to help recognise when someone is having suicidal thoughts and how to respond to keep that person safe.

The program is called “Start” and is provided by LivingWorks, a recognised world leader in suicide prevention training.

It is a 60-minute online training program that teaches valuable suicide prevention skills to anyone 15 years old and over and does not need any pre-requisite training or experience.

Participants will learn how to link those experiencing suicidal thoughts to support services and other help.

Grapevine President Debbie Knight said that if there was such a time that the community needed this training, it is now.

“Isolation presents unique mental health challenges for our community and it’s telling when Lifeline received the most crisis calls in their 57-year history on Good Friday—it demonstrates just how affected people are right now,” she said.

“As a community, we need to keep a watchful eye on those around us and to regularly check-in to make sure others are doing ok—it can be as easy as texting, calling or Skyping someone.”

Mayor Greg Williamson said the online training could not come at a better time.

“Congratulations Grapevine for coordinating this life-saving opportunity for the Mackay region and I urge our community to sign up,” Cr Williamson said.

“There are many factors which can increase the risk of suicide such as an emergency situation, financial distress and a sense of isolation, so as we all practice physical distancing it’s important to recognise that this can be an incredibly lonely time for some.

“Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation and it’s vital we remain connected to each other.

“It makes it all the more important to make sure friends, family and colleagues are coping.”

As participants learn a powerful four-step model to keep family members, friends, and co-workers safe, safety resources and support are made available throughout the program.

The Start training has been devised by the same suicide prevention research team that developed safeTALK and ASIST.

Training is free and the community can sign up by logging onto the Grapevine Group website to register.