‘You can't be a silo’: Meet NSW Health’s Pippa Stevenson


Witnessing the traumatic losses communities and loved ones have suffered is part of the reason behind this NSW health worker’s dedication to suicide prevention. 

Pippa Stevenson, Suicide Prevention Manager for Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s (ISHLD), has spent decades working in crisis management, with 16 of those years as a police officer. 

As a police officer, Ms Stevenson was often in a reactive role, in which she responded to calls ranging from a person having suicidal thoughts to assisting in the devastating event of a suicide. 

Now, in her position at NSW Health, Ms Stevenson is on the proactive side, looking at ways to change and improve systems. 

“It’s so important within the Health District to provide a service to people that's going to be helpful and not just have a tokenistic gesture toward suicide prevention,” she said.

“So when the SafeSide education came along, the Framework was great for clinicians, because it was structured but it also provided flexibility for people who needed support.” 

A critical part of Ms Stevenson’s role is implementing the Zero Suicides in Care initiative, which came into effect in 2020. 

At the time, the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc on health services, which came under enormous strain as they tried to balance increased demand with ongoing restrictions. 

Since partnering with SafeSide Prevention, the ISHLD has put 94 percent of their mental health staff through the learning program, as well as 132 other people outside of the organisation. 

“We saw there was a really good opportunity to provide SafeSide education to the staff who work in the health district, and to people within the community,” she said. 

“We know a lot of people who have suicidal thoughts don't even come to Health, and it impacts the whole community. 

“We want people to get support wherever they go, and we don't want them to have to get a different type of support every time they present somewhere different.”

Ms Stevenson said a critical component of successful suicide prevention was acknowledging that it had to be rooted in a community approach. 

“You can't be a silo and expect that what you do is going to be everything that the person needs,” she said. 

“We have to stretch it across the community. We have to make sure we're all working together and we're on the same page.” 

SafeSide Prevention is a major sponsor of the 2024 National Suicide Prevention Conference facilitated by Suicide Prevention Australia.

Throughout the event our team will be bringing you updates and insights throughout the week of the Conference.

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