A Legislative Assembly committee will conduct an inquiry on the rising rate of youth suicide in the ACT in 2016.
Opposition mental health spokeswoman Giulia Jones proposed a select committee inquiry on Thursday. After amendments from the government, the inquiry will be held by the standing committee on health, ageing, community and social services.
The Assembly heard suicide was the leading cause of death for children in Canberra aged between five and 17-years-of-age in 2013, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Intentional self-harm is one of the leading causes of death among young males. In 2013, 37 people died from suicide in the ACT –an increase of 54 per cent from the previous year.
Mrs Jones said a third of all deaths of young people aged 15 to 25 in the ACT in 2013 were the result of suicide.
“While the cost of suicide in the ACT stood at $24 million in 2012, the emotional and social burden on the community, on families and on carers is immeasurable,” Mrs Jones said.
“I regularly hear from members of the community who battle for years to get mental health help in our city, who try every avenue and who come up against barriers at every turn.
She said it was critical the Assembly examined the issue of young suicide and for effective measures to be put in place to prevent further young people from taking their own lives in Canberra.
Health Minister Simon Corbell said the mental health of children and young people was one of the government’s most important responsibilities. He said about 80,000 people in Canberra experienced varying levels of mental health problems each year.
Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury welcomed the establishment of the committee, and said it would help the community’s growing discussion about the challenges of mental health and suicide among young people.
This article first appeared on ‘Canberra Times’ on 11 February 2016.