Data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed 3,249 Australians died by suicide in 2022, compared to 3,166 in 2021 with Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory impacted most.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Sadly, we have seen an increase in deaths by suicide in 2022. Actions by governments to reduce distress in our communities has likely contained this increase, however it is clear we need to do more.
“Any increase in suicide deaths is unacceptable in Australia and we need to remain focussed on driving down suicide rates. In addition, we see cause for concern with significant increases for particular groups, such as men in their 40s and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
“Access to data is incredibly important in suicide prevention. It helps to inform how we approach suicide prevention and influences service and program delivery. Access to causes of death data is part of this picture, however, we also need more timely data on suicide attempts to better understand and respond to distress in our communities.
“The ABS Causes of Death data are 10—22 months old and cannot be our only indicator in suicide prevention.
“It’s also essential to remember those touched by suicide and how this data may impact them today.
“We know that suicide is complex and often linked to many risk factors like personal debt, unemployment, family breakdown, social isolation, and mental health.
“We can’t ignore that research indicates it’s two to three years post-disaster that rates of suicide can increase, and now, 2-3 years after COVID, is the time for action.
“We can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal. Now is the time to invest in suicide prevention and implement systemic reform,” said Ms Murray.
Suicide Prevention Australia Lived Experience Panel member, Lidia Di Lembo said, “These statistics are important, but it’s just as critical to remember the people behind each number. The impact of suicide loss on family, friends and the broader community is immeasurable and it changes the life of those left behind forever.
“A more systematic, rigorous and targeted effort on early intervention support, by listening to those with a lived experience of suicide and suicide loss is critical in helping people in distress get access to timely and responsive care is essential. We need to use this data to make smarter investment decisions regarding service and program delivery for those in need,” said Ms Lembo.
Suicide Prevention Australia’s Community Tracker revealed for the first time, more than half of Australian families (56%) are reporting elevated cost-of-living distress beyond normal levels in the September Quarter – growing at three times (+20pp) the national average (+6pp).
‘Cost-of-living and personal debt’ was the highest cause of distress for the fifth quarter in a row in the September 2023 Quarter (46%) nationally.
Ms Murray said, “The Federal Government’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy is also a critical piece in the puzzle to turning the trend towards zero. Its imminent release for public comment is highly anticipated by the sector, and demonstrates the commitment across government to drive down suicide rates. Actions like this by government not only help to reduce suicides, but they provide hope to many people doing it tough.
Ms Murray said, “Anyone feeling overwhelmed should reach out to friends, family, and or professional support services. Our member organisations are ready and able to provide support, resources, and a listening ear.
“Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to admit when you’re not okay.
“In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to check in on those around us and remind them that help is available,” said Ms Murray.
Suicide Prevention Australia has renewed its push for the Albanese Federal Government to demonstrate further national leadership and adopt a national suicide prevention act – similar to that operating in South Australia and currently being explored in New South Wales.
Three-quarters (75%) of Australians reporting cost-of-living distress backed the move for national legislation. Ms Murray said, “We need to implement legislative measures to drive down suicide over the longer term. Australia must therefore prioritise a whole-of-government approach.
Ms Murray said, “We need to implement legislative measures to drive down suicide over the longer term. Australia must therefore prioritise a whole-of-government approach.
“Australians want federal leadership on a National Suicide Prevention Act – South Australia successfully legislated a Suicide Prevention Act years ago and New South Wales is currently exploring one.
“An Act will ensure all government decisions consider their impact on suicide risks – and plan adequately for it.
“Now is not the time to slow down. It is critical that we continue to deliver on national, structural, and much-needed reform at a time when our community needs it most,” said Ms Murray.
- 3,249 people died by suicide compared to 3,166 in 2021.
- The median age of death by suicide was 45.6 years.
- The age-standardised suicide rate was 12.3 per 100,000 people.
- Suicide was the 15th leading cause of death.
- Men aged 45-49 had the highest rates of those aged under 80 years – 32.6 per 100,000.
- Suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and 10th for females in 2022.
Quotes from our members:
CEO of ReachOut, Ashley de Silva said, “As suicide remains the leading cause of death of young peole in Australia, it is vital that we encourage young people to seek support if they are struggling. The loss of any person to suicide is a tragedy. We hope the data can be used to continue to improve prevention and support services for young people across Australia.”
CEO of MATES in Construction, Chris Lockwood said, “Today’s data release underscores the importance of suicide prevention and mental health initiatives within the construction industry.
“For workers, suicide seems to be the harsh reality of our industry with suicide rates twice that of other industry workers.
“However, we are seeing some tangible results from our work. Since 2008 we have delivered face to face programs to over 300,000 workers through our trusted MATES workplace development programs, on site workshops, individual case management and helpline services. Worker-to-worker peer approaches have proven to be pivotal, encouraging help-seeking behaviours, and reducing stigma.
While this has provided us with an optimistic outlook for the future, we acknowledge the substantial task ahead and the ongoing support we will require from industry partners, unions, government, and the community,” said Mr Lockwood.
Chief Research Officer of Lifeline, Dr Anna Brooks said, “We know intervention can save lives and we are committed to keeping up our momentum in all areas, including community services, aftercare and bereavement, as well as finding new ways of working together within the sector to support people in suicidal distress or at risk of it.
Today will be a difficult day for many. I want to encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out for support – and to remind everyone that Lifeline is here for you across our phone and digital services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Said Dr Brooks
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/
Tom Anderson 0409 718 271 or email@example.com
Clare Kinsella 0427 689 689 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Suicide Prevention Australia
Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body and we’ve been providing support for Australia’s suicide prevention sector for more than 30 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.