Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray
Suicide touches the lives of so many Australians.
It is the leading cause of death in Australians aged 15-49 and an estimated 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt each year.
These sobering statistics represent our children, siblings, friends and colleagues, each of them contributing members of our community experiencing distress they don’t know how to stop.
Despite increased government investment in suicide prevention, we’ve not seen any meaningful reduction in the suicide rate for over a decade. But recent events, in particular the Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, provide real hope that positive change is within our grasp.
This comprehensive roadmap for tackling suicide in Australia has drawn upon years of evidence and experience. It is a pragmatic and imminently actionable plan, written in partnership with those who have lived experience, and signals a fundamental shift away from traditional models.
It acknowledges that suicide is a complex human issue with multiple factors at play including the influence of broader social issues, not just poor mental health. This is critically important.
A humanity-driven approach is needed not just for those at the point of crisis, but also earlier where distress is starting to build. This means embedding suicide prevention into our national support systems such as employment, justice and social services.
To realise this, we need a National Suicide Prevention Office. The Office will bring together all levels of government – Commonwealth, State and Local – with a clear mandate to ensure evidence-based suicide prevention is considered when developing policy, making funding decisions and creating programmes across Governments and portfolios. It will facilitate national oversight with tailored service delivery that takes local need into account.
We have seen the power of what is possible when our Governments work cohesively together, particularly through the early stages of the pandemic. Through a connected and compassionate response, COVID-19 has remained at bay and thankfully, suicide rates stable.
Fortunately, the protective factors implemented for those most vulnerable during the pandemic have worked. Post-COVID, it’s important that we maintain interventions that keep people safe, such as enhanced telehealth, better protections for renters, and increased welfare support.
We’re heartened to see an initial positive response to the national suicide prevention roadmap from the Federal Government. As a sector, we are ready to take what we have learned, harness community spirit and focus on humanity, as we work together, towards a world without suicide.
To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.