New research shows the vast majority (79%) of Australians back a National Suicide Prevention Act like Japan’s, as frontline services call on the Federal Albanese Government to legislate now.
Peak body Suicide Prevention Australia will join 40 prominent organisations and individuals – including RUOK?, yourtown, Wesley Mission, ReachOut, MATES and batyr – in an open letter to be delivered to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and all 227 MPs and Senators in the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day next Saturday (10 September 2022). Those supporting the open letter represent over 40,000 staff, volunteers and leaders in Australia’s suicide prevention sector.
Exclusive results from Suicide Prevention Australia’s upcoming annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention survey, show overwhelming and united support from the suicide prevention sector* (75%) and public (79%, incl. 49% strongly agreeing) for the Albanese Government to introduce a National Suicide Prevention Act.
Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said this support was not surprising, given a surge in demand for frontline services, rising interest rates and other economic and social factors, as well as the increase in media coverage following recent high-profile cases of Australians taking their own lives.
Support was also consistently high amongst the public across age groups, generations, and income brackets, with particularly high support amongst Australians with children under 18 at home (84%).
South Australians also showed the strongest support of the five largest states, following their State Government introducing a whole-of-government suicide prevention act in the past 12 months. The NSW Labor Opposition has made similar commitments if it wins the 2023 state election.
“Australians are increasingly aware of suicide risks and active in its prevention. They clearly want increased commitment from their Federal Government,” Ms Murray said.
“Swiftly introducing a National Suicide Prevention Act is good policy ahead of the growing economic and social challenges posing a major risk to suicide rates in this country.
“Let’s not forget research shows it’s two-to-three years after a natural or economic disaster that suicide rates can increase. We saw this with increases to suicide rates during the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, and we’ve seen it after bushfires, Cyclone Yasi and the Christchurch earthquake.
“Individuals and frontline services are making a major difference in minimising the current community fallout driven by growing cost-of-living, housing insecurity and relationship breakdown pressures.
“However, the Federal Government is ultimately responsible for the nation’s economic and social policy settings – and performance.
“A National Suicide Prevention Act will ensure every government minister is aware – and prepared – for the human impact of their policy decisions.
“We call on all Federal MPs, not just the Prime Minister, to consider the merits of a National Suicide Prevention Act as a matter of priority for both the parliament and their electorates.”
Since the introduction of the 2006 Basic Act for Suicide Prevention in Japan, suicide deaths have fallen by about 40 percent in the past 15 years and the number of suicides nationwide hit a 40-year low in 2019.
|Q. To what extent do you agree or disagree that Australia should introduce a standalone Suicide Prevention Act similar to South Australia or other countries like Japan, that looks to take a whole-of-government approach?|
|Source: Suicide Prevention Australia’s upcoming State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention 2022 report, with national weighted survey of public undertaken by YouGov plc of 1024 adults**.|
“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and the impact spreads across families, schools, workplace, sporting clubs and community groups. For those feeling distress, help is available and it’s important to reach out and seek support,” Ms Murray said.
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.
Help to report about suicide safely is available online: Go to https://mindframe.org.au/
Suicide Prevention Australia’s annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report includes a survey of both the public and suicide prevention sector services and workers. *Source: Suicide Prevention Australia survey of the suicide prevention sector, with 283 responses – the equal highest since the report began. **Source: YouGov plc. Total sample size was 1024 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 17th August 2022. The survey was completed online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Australian adults (aged 18+).
Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body and we’ve been providing support for Australia’s suicide prevention sector for more than 25 years. We support and advocate for our members to drive continual improvement in suicide prevention policy, programs and services. Our reach is broad, including member organisations, governments, businesses, researchers, practitioners and those with lived experience. We are focused on an integrated approach to suicide prevention encompassing mental health, social, economic and community factors. We believe that through collaborative effort and shared purpose, we can achieve our vision of a world without suicide.