by Courtney Becht
WIDE BAY mood disorder rates are sitting at the highest in Australia, alongside the region's depression rates soaring in at third on the nation's ladder.
According to the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service (WBHHS), during 2014-2015 mental health patient contacts to Wide Bay hospitals was 54,298, and during 2015-2016 it rose to 65,454.
In 2015, the Wide Bay had an interim rate of 20 suicides per 100,000 people, compared to the Queensland rate of 16 per 100,000 people.
Senior Wide Bay psychologist Dan Banos said 75% of people who had taken their lives in 2015 didn't visit health services in the last 12 months.
"We still haven't done enough community work, people in communities are still not being captured by our services," he said.
"The stigma surrounding mental health needs to be dropped - having said that, people are coming in in larger numbers so there is more awareness as a result and more exceptions that it is more acceptable."
He believes more community-based preventative measures are needed to reduce suicide rates.
"We need, not only health services to be involved, but we need community measures, gatekeepers, schools, guidance officers, and community members to all come together," Mr Banos said.
WBHHS is looking to implement recommendations similar to a report by the Black Dog Institute, titled "An Evidence-based Systems Approach to Suicide Prevention", which discussed strategies to help prevent suicide.
"It is a fairly new discovery, there are only a few trails in the country, so the evidence is there but we have to make sure it is effective," he said.
"It is something we are aware can help and we are collaborating with the Primary Health Network."
Nine preventive strategies are outlined in the report including after-care and crisis care, school programs, community campaigns and frontline staff training recommendations.
"We are working towards that now, we are exploring those recommendations," Mr Banos said.
"There needs to be information for people to reach out and to be aware that we are available and we have the capacity and expertise to help them.
"Their primary point of contact is a GP, that should be a place to go, or they can come directly to us."
According to the report, more than 71,000 people in Australia will attempt suicide in any given year.
For support contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
Mood disorders are defined as elevated or serious change in moods such as depression, dysthymia, or bipolar disorder. Mood disorders are treatable and there is help available.
Yourcare - 28 Torquay Rd (07) 4128 5400
Headspace - (07) 4303 2100
Hervey Bay Hospital - (07) 4325 6666
Community Health Centre - (07) 4122 8733
Suncare Community Services - 1800 786 227
Maryborough Base Hospital - (07) 4122 8222
Centacare Fraser Coast Community Service -1300 236 822