SPCAP Logo Mackay

Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group
Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay

Selectability Logo




Setting the Scene


  • The urgency of need for effective suicide prevention strategies is recognised both at a national level and locally
  • The 2017 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that 3,128 people died from suicide, which is a 9.1% increase over the previous year. There are more deaths from suicide than road accidents
  • The 2018 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported the 3,046 people died from suicide, which is a 2.6% decrease over the previous year. 
  • Every day about 8 Australians die by suicide and an attempt is made every 7 minutes. For every death by suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their lives. The estimate of suicide attempts each year is over 65,000. These attempts and deaths impact up to 100 other people in a ripple effect across the community
  • The most recent ABS data for the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region indicates that between 2011 and 2013, 89 people died by suicide
  • The most recent AIHW data for Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region indicates that between 2014 and 2018, 162 people died by suicide

SPCAP Program and Objectives

The objectives of the Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group (SPCAP) are to:


  • Produce a Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan (now complete, with ongoing implementation)
  • Reduce suicide attempts and deaths across the region (long term)
  • Build capacity of post-vention services (post attempt and/or death, for the person and their family), with community services
  • Implement evidence-based practices and standards

Link to Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan


Geographic Region

  • SPCAP operates across the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay Regional Council areas in Queensland
  • The Whitsunday Regional Council area is 23 863 square kilometres with a population of approximately 35 000 people
  • Isaac Regional Council covers 58 862 square kilometres, with 20 940 permanent residents and approximately 10 580 resource sector temporary residents
  • Mackay Regional Council encompasses 7622 square kilometres, with a population of approximately 116 000 people.
  • Collectively, the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region’s geographical footprint is greater than the whole of Tasmania

Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay Region


Mackay to Bowen: 191 km (2 hrs)
Mackay to Clermont: 290km (3 hrs)
Mackay to St Lawrence: 159km (2 hrs)
Bowen to St Lawrence: 347km (4 hrs)
Moranbah to Middlemount: 149km (1.5hrs)
Moranbah to Bowen: 323km (3.5hrs)



SPCAP Background and Description

  • SPCAP commenced in January 2017, with funding through North Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN), a Commonwealth commissioning body
  • This funding covers operational costs facilitation and support from five part-time staff members who are based across Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay
  • The project is auspiced by selectability, a not-for-profit community mental health organisation which has offices in ten locations across North Queensland (including Mackay)
  • SPCAP’s work commenced with development of a Suicide Prevention Plan for the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region. This was undertaken by 14 representatives from across the region, who were nominated at a public community meeting
  • The draft plan was publicly endorsed in June 2017 and is now being implemented by 17 nominated representatives

Underpinning Model

The LifeSpan model was chosen as the basis for a Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan in the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac region at a public forum on 3 March 2017.

The LifeSpan model is appropriate for this region since it:

  • Allows for the alignment of the strategies with local priorities and nuances across the region
  • Provides a basis for collaborative activity across the region
  • Facilitates the implementation of evidence based strategies that can be evaluated over time
  • Assumes the integration of cultural differences and people with lived experience
  • Anticipates a reduction in the number of attempts and deaths by suicide across the region

SPCAP Representatives

SPCAP now includes 17 representatives for:

People with lived experience LGBTQI+
Isaac community Young people
Whitsunday community Mackay Hospital and Health Services
Australian South Sea Islanders GP Practices/Health Pathways
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders NQPHN
Suicide prevention/after-care services First responders (police, fire, ambulance)
Men Migrants
Community groups, services and agencies who provide training Media and other services that conduct community media campaigns
Industry (Resource Industry Network, Mates in Construction) Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other mental health professionals



SPCAP Achievements to Date

  • Working with SANE Australia as one of two national pilot sites for the Better Off With You media campaign.
  • Presentations at NQPHN conference (2019) and Resource Industry Network conference (2018).
  • Developed a ‘Saving Lives’ infographic and other resources for regional circulation (over 3000 copies).
  • Participated in 12 Days of Mental Health and Wellbeing Christmas Campaign in collaboration with Mackay Hospital and Health Service and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS).
  • Recipient of sponsorships through Mackay Freemasons, Hand Heart Pocket and the River to Reef Ride (Oct 2019).
  • Hosted two workshops for people with lived experience of suicide and established a Lived Experience Bureau.
  • Circulation of monthly Regional Roundup e-newsletter since April 2018 to more than 500 subscribers.
  • Working with MHHS Steering Committee for implementation of the Zero Suicide Strategy.
  • Development of a Regional Register of suicide prevention and mental health training available across Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay, which is hosted in collaboration with NQPHN/Health Pathways.
  • Hosted annual forums and facilitated participation by service providers in the Mental Health Fair in 2019.
  • Collected and collated data from 268 regional respondents to identify if/how people ask for help for mental health concerns.
Regional Roundup

The Regional Roundup is a space to share what’s happening to prevent suicide in our region.  We need this because our best chance of supporting families and saving lives is by working together, making the most of the resources and training we have here and not wasting time and energy on duplication or trying to do it all ourselves.

You’ll also find here an update about on actions taken to progress the strategies in the Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan. The Planning Group meets monthly, works continuously and welcomes your input or feedback into the strategies.

We hope you find this information useful and that you share it with others who can benefit as well.  If you have any resources or other information to be shared, or want help with something, please email it through to Shea.


11 Wood Street, Mackay
QLD Australia 4740