The latest ABS report on Causes of Death in Australia reveals more than 2,500 people died by suicide in 2012 – the highest number for the past ten years. These figures are an urgent call to action on suicide prevention, says SANE Australia.
‘Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for the person involved and their family and friends,’ says Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia, the mental health charity. ‘It is highly concerning that the overall suicide rate (11.2 per 100,000) remains stubbornly high.’
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44, with the highest rate among middle-aged men. Suicide among teenage girls (aged 15-19) increased by 63% from 2011 to 2012: from 36 deaths to 59.
‘As a member of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention, SANE Australia calls for a one-year renewal of the current 49 National Suicide Prevention Strategy projects that terminate in June 2014. In this way, critical momentum will not be lost while the Strategy is reviewed, and reinvigorated action can be taken from next year.
Last year the National Mental Health Commission chaired an Expert Reference Group for the Coalition of Australian Governments’ Working Group on Mental Health Reform. Following widespread consultation across the mental health sector, a key recommendation of the ERG was for governments to adopt a national goal to halve the suicide rate over a ten year period.
‘SANE Australia calls on the Federal and State Governments, through COAG, to establish a national goal to halve the suicide rate in ten years, and make a concerted effort to achieve it as a matter of urgency,’ says Heath.
‘There is no simple solution to suicide prevention,’ says Heath. ‘We need a range of coordinated services with support from governments to build the most effective national strategy.
‘There is widespread concern in the mental health community about uncertainty regarding the future of the current National Suicide Prevention Strategy projects. Without this ongoing support, we know that lives may well be lost’.
This article first appeared on SANE on 2 April, 2014.