Suicide Prevention Act

As part of our National Policy Platform, we are calling for the implementation of a National Suicide Prevention Act.

Peak body Suicide Prevention Australia joined over 40 prominent organisations and individuals in an open letter which was delivered to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and all 227 MPs and Senators in the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day 2022. As the vast majority (79%) of Australians now back a National Suicide Prevent Act.

What is a National Suicide Prevention Act?

An Act ensures that every government department and official, whether it’s housing, education, social security or health, must look at their work through a suicide prevention lens.  

It means everyone is accountable.

There is a shared responsibility across all levels of government, all portfolios and all communities. South Australia has passed an Act and other states are considering their own legislation. In 2006, Japan introduced a Suicide Prevention Act – this helped to bring numbers down by roughly 40% over 15 years. Across our community, we know distress is at an all-time high.

That is why we urgently need a National Suicide Prevention Act to achieve systemic, sustained change.  

Why do we need a National Suicide Prevention Act?

Suicide is very complex human behaviour. There is no single cause. We know that mental ill-health is one risk factor, but it is far from the only one.

Only half of people who die by suicide are accessing mental health services in the 12 months prior and many people who lose their life to suicide do not have a mental health condition.

These other factors that increase someone’s risk of suicide are what we call social determinants. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, their age, and the factors that influence daily life. Examples include childhood abuse, addiction, bereavement, financial crisis, insecure housing, education, social isolation and more.

Considering all these risk factors for suicide, how can we truly address suicide prevention if we’re only looking at it through a mental ill-health lens? Through a National Suicide Prevention Act.