A rare ‘black swan’ event is posing serious consequences for Australia’s suicide rates, as three-quarters (78%) of frontline suicide prevention services and workers report increased demand in the wake of COVID19.
The findings are from the inaugural Australian State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report – released to coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 today (Thursday, 10 September 2020).
Suicide Prevention Australia Nieves Murray CEO – who commissioned the report – said a key solution included overwhelming suicide prevention sector (80%) – and public (70%) – support for the Federal Government introducing a standalone National Suicide Prevention Act taking a whole of government – not just mental health – approach.
Ms Murray said Australia was headed for a “clash of economic and social distress”, with the suicide prevention sector significantly concerned about suicide risks driven by employment (82%), social isolation (81%) and relationship breakdown (77%), with 65% of respondents reporting a need for more funding and support to cope.
“International research shows as economies go down, suicide rates go up, and Australia has just entered its worst recession in nearly a century,” Ms Murray said.
“The longer COVID19 and its economic and social impacts run, the bigger the risk of a hidden ‘third wave’ of suicide deaths not recorded in the official virus figures.
“While our end goal must be reducing suicide rates towards zero, our immediate priority must be minimising any risk of them increasing during and after COVID-19.
“The national community was already vulnerable after the Bushfires and we must now urgently increase our efforts to fortify the community against COVID19 spreading to suicide rates.
“But we must also ensure the nation’s response is underpinned by clear, targeted and structurally-sound policy decisions, which is why we must in parallel introduce a National Suicide Prevention Act legislating our current – and future – response to events likes these.”
A “black swan” event (page 3) is defined as “an event that is extremely rare and unexpected but has very significant consequences.”
Australia’s annual suicide death rate (3046) is currently more-than-three times that of COVID19’s (753).
The State of the Nation report shows that in addition to a national Suicide Prevention Act, there’s also support for: extending Jobkeeper, increasing Jobseeker’s base rate, and investing in better real-time data reporting and collection to help identify suicide clusters and trends, which will be critical to Australia’s COVID19 response and recovery.
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.
About the Report
The inaugural State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention Report brings together the results of a survey of 140 organisations and individuals working in suicide prevention and a YouGov poll involving more than 1,000 Australians. The report showcases insights on the operating, funding and policy environment for suicide prevention, together with emerging risks and protective factors for suicide.
Suicide By The Numbers
- 3000+ deaths due to suicide in 2018 (3,046)
- 8+ deaths each day by suicide in Australia on average (8.4)
- 4 males per day
- 2 females per day
- 75% of suicide deaths were men in Australia (2,320)
- 65,000 suicide attempts each year (est.)
- Each year, around 100,000 Australians attempt suicide and it is estimated that more than 500,000 Australians have attempted suicide at some time in their life.
- 2x: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had a rate of suicide approximately twice that of non-Indigenous people in Australia.
Help to report about suicide safely is available online: Go to www.mindframe-media.info