The NRSPP signs the National Communications Charter supporting safe language about mental health and suicide within the road transport system
Since 2019, the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) has been collaboratively leading the Austroads funded project Suicide in Road Transport Prevention (SRTP). Suicides involving road transport are relatively rare but have a significant impact on those bereaved by the suicide, such as family members, friends, colleagues and communities, as well as the road system users, like drivers and passengers, first responders and witnesses.
The collaborative SRTP project identified there is a significant ripple effect following such a traumatic event which can be long lasting and sadly the impact on third parties, particularly truck drivers, is often not fully recognised. A key issue is suicide events on the road network are not documented, and often involve community stigma and therefore go unrecognised so there is little to no support.
A key recommendation from the SRTP project was how crucial it is to safely talk about suicide events within the road network which is why the NRSPP will sign the National Communications Charter (The Charter) which is hosted on the Life in Mind portal, a key program delivered by Everymind.
Everymind is a leading institute dedicated to the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide, delivered through best practice programs, communication, policy responses and translational research. The institute is based in Newcastle but works on a national scale and was a partner of the SRTP project. Everymind, through the Mindframe program, developed national guidelines for communicating about suicide on the road network for government, industry and the media. Prevention is at the core of Everymind’s work and this is demonstrated when Everymind is developing policy, programs and resources to support our stakeholders and community.
Addressing suicide in the Road Transport System
To address this complex issue, suicide prevention approaches need to include a spectrum of activities to intervene at individual and broader population levels, implemented at the same time and tailored to the local community context. Improvements to communication about suicide, particularly public communication such as media reporting, is one of several strategies used internationally and here in Australia that is contributing to suicide prevention efforts.
It is important when discussing suicide to be mindful of the language used. Certain language may be distressing or stigmatising, alienate members of the community or inadvertently present suicide as glamorous, a preferred outcome or a solution for dealing with problems.
The NRSPP welcomes the opportunity to sign The Charter and encourages other partners to follow suit. The SRTP project is a major first step and NRSPP looks forward to its release.
The National Communications Charter (The Charter)
The Charter is an evidence-informed resource to guide the way the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, government, business and community talk about mental ill-health and suicide.
By signing The Charter, it serves as a formal commitment to use safe and consistent language, and to put the eight principles into practice to reduce stigma and promote help-seeking, including:
- Always frame suicide as a tragic, avoidable loss
- Focus on the negative impact on others
- Use safe and sensitive language
- Minimise details of method and location
- Provide context
- Avoid speculation
- Explore stories of overcoming suicidal ideation
- Promote help-seeking information
The Charter was officially launched in September 2018 by the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Former Minister for Health. Everymind led the redevelopment of The Charter in 2018, under the guidance of the Life in Mind Champions.
Tools and resources available on the Life in Mind portal provide practical strategies to implement these principles into the workplace.
There were over 100 diverse partners from industry, government, academia, associations and experts that contributed to the SRTP project that formed the National Working Group and Project Working Group.
Special mention needs to be made of Dr Sarah Jones and Toll Group who first raised the issues of suicide within the road transport network and continue to champion recognition of the impact and greater support and investment is required to address this significant and complex issue.
For more information on The Charter:
National Communications Charter – Life in Mind Australia