Suicide is complex, multifactorial human behaviour with many varied risk factors. As an organisation whose vision is a world without suicide, we do a lot of work thinking about these risk factors and what can be done to address them.
Increasingly, the evidence is clear that the social determinants of health and wellbeing, including social, economic and physical environments, play a critical role in suicide rates. What we do in our health system is key to saving lives but the solutions go much further. Only half of those who tragically lose their life to suicide each year access mental health services at the time, so widening the support structures and services beyond health is critical. This is why we work with experts across sectors to understand those factors that contribute to suicide and how we can best intervene. We’ve partnered with Financial Counselling Australia to look at gambling-related suicides, including a roundtable comprising those with lived experience, clinicians, service providers and researchers and sector leaders.
We know that gambling can heighten two key risk factors for suicide which are financial hardship and relationship breakdown. We also know that protective factors for suicide, such as social support, physical health and employment can be compromised by gambling issues.
We know gambling-related suicides are under-reported and not getting the policy attention they deserve which is why we have released Gambling and Suicide Prevention: A roadmap for change, a report that outlines key opportunities for action. These range from increased efforts to identify and record gambling-related suicides to steps that banks, gambling providers and regulators can take to reduce gambling harm. The report calls for improved treatment facilities, training for helpline operators and community awareness of the tools already available.
Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and more needs to be done now to prevent suicides related to gambling and the financial stress that is often associated. Governments, service providers, industry and the community all have a role to play in suicide prevention.