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Groundbreaking new service to tackle youth suicide in WA

Ruah is proud to partner with Samaritans WA and Telethon Kids Institute to design and deliver an innovative new service that will save the lives of young Western Australians and support up to 300 young people and their families every year.

The service is a new Youth Sanctuary planned for Subiaco, offering help to young people experiencing suicidal thoughts.  It is hoped the Sanctuary will open in 2023.

The Youth Sanctuary will be a residential centre providing early intervention for up to five people at any one time, aged between 16 and 24 at a time.

The new service is not an acute medical facility but a centre of support, for young people to reflect and learn coping skills before they reach crisis point.

The innovative program is based on an international model, operated by Maytree UK, which has been working successfully for 20 years. It has been co-designed by leaders in youth suicide support, mental health services and research evaluation, with input from young people with lived experience of suicidal thoughts and behaviours to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Suicidal thoughts are a separate experience to mental illness and, as such, the young people seeking support at the Youth Sanctuary won’t need a mental health diagnosis to use the facility They can be referred there by anyone, including family, friends or health professionals. They can also refer themselves.

Currently, young people experiencing suicidal thoughts often have limited options and are likely to be taken to a hospital emergency department which is not always an appropriate option for the young person, particularly if they are otherwise mentally well. This pathway also places added pressures on our hospital system.

The Youth Sanctuary will, as the name suggests, be a peaceful place for recovery, proposed to be located at the Samaritans WA existing site in Subiaco, pending approval for the change of use from the City of Subiaco.  Samaritans WA has been based in Subiaco since 1967, running their helpline, range of training services and face-to-face emotional support.

As the Sanctuary will have a maximum of five residents and five staff at any one time, there will be far fewer people visiting the site, and less traffic and parking impact than were previously experienced at the site.

If you’d like to know more about the Youth Sanctuary, you can read the announcement from Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson, an information sheet or perhaps have some of your queries answered in this FAQ.