Youth Suicide Prevention in Australia

1 December 2010
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young Australians, claiming the lives at least 281 15-24 year olds in 2008. Although suicide is a tragedy at any age, youth suicide generates extreme levels of distress and loss in Australian communities. Suicide Prevention Australia last week launched the Youth Suicide Prevention position statement. The position statement is the result of collaboration between representatives from Suicide Prevention Australia, The Inspire Foundation, Youth Beyondblue, Curtin University, Twenty10, Principals Australia, The Black Dog Institute, Headspace, AISRAP, Carers Australia, Youth Focus and Lifeline. The alliance was led by Jo Robinson from Orygen Youth Health and Dr Michael Dudley, Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia. The resulting paper consolidates some previously inaccessible information on youth suicide and outlines the current programs and initiatives in place in Australia to tackle it. Drawing on international evidence the position statement also puts forward some recommendations on how we can become better at preventing youth suicide in Australia. Recommendations include: removing structural barriers to youth wellbeing; targeting risk factors and increasing protective factors for suicide prevention, involving young people in the design and implementation of youth suicide prevention programs; increasing research and access to online services; focussing on early intervention in youth mental illness; reducing the stigma of asking for help; providing gatekeeper training for adults; and inclusion of suicide prevention mechanisms in the school curriculum. Suicide Prevention Australia Chairman, Dr Michael Dudley was honoured to take part in the development of this important paper, “having been personally involved in youth suicide prevention for over 30 years it is refreshing to see this critical information made easily accessible to parents, teachers, the community and our policy makers. Youth suicide is a tragedy, a preventable tragedy, and as a nation we must do better at looking after our young people – by giving them the skills to live a healthy life.”