» » Trends in employment, relationships and rising consumer debt impacting suicide risk this decade

Trends in employment, relationships and rising consumer debt impacting suicide risk this decade

Trends in employment, relationships and rising consumer debt impacting suicide risk this decade

A suicide prevention roundtable in Sydney tomorrow (Tuesday 3 December 2019) is set to debate and identify solutions and services to support people who may be at risk of suicide as a result of insecure employment, relationship breakdown, and/or experiencing debt pressures.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said, “We’ve got a new decade with a unique set of challenges fast approaching. The challenge for this decade is preventing the next wave of stressors – whether they be financial, personal or environmental – transforming into a threat to suicide rates in the first place.

“There’s a desire for change across Australia, with the Productivity Commission into the Mental Health System underway, the Royal Commission in Victoria and the appointment of Christine Morgan as National Suicide Prevention Adviser. This is an unmissable opportunity for us to come up with solutions to the issues that we know elevate the risk of suicide,” said Ms Murray.

Recently, Turning Points: Imagine a World Without Suicide white paper, commissioned by Suicide Prevention Australia and developed by KPMG – predicts 1300 more deaths by suicide per year will occur by 2030 if the worsening rates of the last decade (2010s) continue.

The recognition by the Government that we can only work toward a zero suicide rate by identifying and addressing social determinants through whole-of-government collaboration is a welcome one.

Roundtable panelist, John Brogden AM, Chairman, Lifeline Australia said, “Suicide happens because of a range of really complex factors – not all to do with mental ill health.

“Bringing together people from business, consumer groups, people with lived experience of suicide and people working in the suicide prevention sector means we can come up with solutions that will work.  Collaboration is critical,” said Mr Brogden.

The roundtable has a powerful lineup of speakers offering many diverse suicide prevention solutions.

  • John Brogden AM, Chairman, Lifeline Australia
  • Bronwen Edwards, CEO, Roses in the Ocean
  • Darren Cocks, Chief Operating Officer, Human Capital Solutions, NSW Business Chamber
  • Andrew Dempster, Director, KPMG
  • Alan Kirkland, CEO, CHOICE
  • Margo Lydon, CEO, SuperFriend

While suicide isn’t a common response to financial crisis, we know people who experience unmanageable debt have an elevated risk of suicide.[1]  Recent research and data indicates that:

  • Australian household debt has risen for more than thirty years, and continues to rise due to increasing house prices (and mortgages), as well as car loans, credit card use and other forms of personal debt
  • Nearly a third (29%) of Australian households are ‘over-indebted’: meaning household expenditure exceeded household income or assets[2]

Conditions at work can have a profound effect on mental health and wellbeing. More than half the Australian workforce reported experiencing an issue with mental ill health, with two in five of these saying their workplace either caused or exacerbated the condition.[3]

While the breakdown of a relationship is a well-established suicide risk factor across the population, men experience an elevated risk of suicide after a relationship breakdown. For example, separated males in Queensland, were found to have a risk of suicide six times that of their married counterparts.[4]

The solutions developed at the roundtable will be published in a report early next year.

Media Contacts: 

Clare Kinsella – 0427 689 689

Michaela Weston – 0403 483 023



[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). Household Income and Wealth, Australia, 2015-16. Catalogue no. 6523.0. Available at: <https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/6523.0~2015-16~Main%20Features~Household%20Income%20and%20Wealth%20Distribution~6.>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Superfriend. (2019). Indicators of a thriving workplace survey: national report. Melbourne: Superfriend, available at <https://www.superfriend.com.au/app/uploads/2019/11/2019-Indicators-of-a-Thriving-Workplace-Survey-National-Report.pdf>.

[4] Amato, P. (2015). ‘Marriage, cohabitation and mental health’, Family Matters, No. 96: June, available at <https://aifs.gov.au/publications/family-matters/issue-96/marriage-cohabitation-and-mental-health>.