NEW data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals a “heartbreaking” rise in suicide rates nationally, says Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray.
Last year saw a rise by 6 per cent, when compared to 2018, report the bureau.
Three thousand, three hundred and nineteen people died by suicide last year, which is 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people. This represents an increase of around 6 per cent compared with the 3138 suicide deaths reported for 2018 – that equates to 9.1 deaths per day compared to 8.6 deaths per day in recent years, says Ms Murray.
“These figures are heartbreaking and unacceptable,” Ms Murray says.
“Part of the solution is identifying those in distress before they reach crisis point and helping them find the right support.
“While the figures released today paint a sobering picture from 2019, we can’t underestimate the impact that the events of COVID-19 is having today and into the future. COVID-19 has amplified the factors we know link with distress and suicide, including unemployment, housing insecurity and financial stress.
“Government needs to coordinate funding and build suicide prevention solutions into their policy decisions about issues as diverse as housing, employment, and helping people to build healthy social connections.
“International evidence shows the best way to achieve this is through a standalone National Suicide Prevention Office, supported by an Act that requires every part of government to consider suicide prevention in their funding and policy decisions.
“As we told the Productivity Commission, Australia needs to adopt this approach, pass a Suicide Prevention Act and set up a permanent National Suicide Prevention Office if we’re to see real change, commitment and accountability in suicide prevention.
“We need to see government direct their efforts at tailoring the right training to every part of the suicide prevention workforce – not just the clinical workforce.”
Ms Murray says the ABS data highlights that suicide is complex and not just linked to mental health, with psychosocial risk factors were associated causes of death for 90 per cent of suicides.
“Problems in spousal relationship circumstances was the most commonly mentioned psychosocial risk factor in deaths due to suicide,” she says.
Other key findings include mood disorders, including depression, which was identified for 40.6 per cent of suicides, substance use disorders (including intoxication) was reported in 30.6 per cent of male suicides, previous self-harm was reported in almost one-third (30.5 per cent) of female suicides, and suicide was the leading cause of death among people aged 15-49.
“We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community,” Ms Murray says.
To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.