Uncategorized — 16 September 2013

Mental health experts want to halve Australia’s suicide rate over the next decade.

The National Coalition for Suicide Prevention (NCSP) launched the plan this week to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.

bigstockphoto_Sad_Woman_552129[1]Despite more people seeking help, suicide numbers continue to rise with roughly 2,300 people in Australia commit suicide last year, claiming more lives than skin cancer and car accidents.

A new approach to suicide prevention is needed, to halve the nation’s suicide rate over the next ten years said chief executive of Suicide Prevention Australia Sue Murray.

“The only way we will be able to do this is with increased and targeted funding to the suicide prevention sector,” she said.

As part of the NCSP’s multi-pronged approach, The Black Dog Institute is trialling the world’s first online suicide prevention program.

“The ‘Healthy Thinking’ trial is offering people a confidential self-help service that can be accessed 24/7 by anyone with internet access,” said Professor Helen Christensen, Executive Director at the institute.

“Lifeline was using leading edge technology when it started a telephone crisis line in Austrlaia 50 years ago and it is now using the internet to make the same offer of help to save lives,” she said.

A newly released report on the success of the Lifeline Online Crisis Support Chat found the suicide prevention services had a return of investment of $12 for every $1 spent.

Beyondblue are tackling  suicide among working-age men by providing male-dominated workplaces including construction, mining and manufacturing with free or heavily-subsidised training sessions to improve mental health.

More than three quarters of deaths by suicide were men according to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, and over half of these were men of working age.

More than 81,000 people have already completed the National Workplace Program sessions since 2004 and 98% would recommend the program to others, said beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell.

“These workshops will also build managers’ skills and confidence to approach a colleague to have a conversation. We’re not expecting people to diagnose their colleagues, but to understand that depression and anxiety could be the drivers of certain behaviours,” she said.

There was some good news up north, with data from the Queensland Suicide Register suggesting the state’s suicide rate has declined slightly over the last ten years, though the researchers stress Australia’s suicide rates remain high.

This article first appeared on Psychiatry Update on 12 September, 2013.


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