In 2016 more Australians aged between 15 to 44 died from suicide than any other cause, new data from the ABS shows.
Suicide rates have fallen but it remains the leading cause of death among young Australians.
While accounting for 1.8 per cent of all deaths last year – fewer than in 2014 and 2015 – suicide claimed more than a third of those who died aged 15-24 and more than a quarter aged 25-34.
The figures, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, show a total of 2866 deaths caused by deliberate self-harm in 2016.
That’s still more than a decade ago but down from the more than 3000 the previous year.
Executive director of Lifeline Research Foundation Alan Woodward says suicide needs to be seen as a public health issue.
“We are still seeing almost eight people die every day from suicide,” he told AAP on Wednesday.
“The statistics are heartbreaking. Each of those numbers represents someone who has died.”
Mr Woodward says he is dismayed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rates remain twice as high as the general population.
“We need recognition of the deeply-seated issues that affect indigenous people,” he said.
In 2016 three times as many men died from suicide than women. Most were aged 30-34 while most female suicide victims were aged between 50 and 54.
All states and territories except for Tasmania experienced a drop in suicide rates from the previous year.
Lifeline is calling for Australians to donate to its largest fundraising campaign yet, to provide counselling support and suicide prevention services.
Mr Woodward said for people struggling, having someone show they care is key.
“Our message to people who might be struggling is that tough times do pass,” he said.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.
Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS
This piece was first seen on ‘SBS News’ September 28, 2017.