Suicide Reduction Target Needed Rates Spike Across Australia

By Stephanie Acevedo

The number of suicide rates in Australia has risen across the country, resulting in calls for federal government action to prevent self-harm and deaths.

Lifeline chairman John Brogden has asked the Morrison government to set a national target for suicide reduction following spiking rates in 2017 to curb the increase in deaths.

According to the Australian Bureau of statistics, 3,138 Australians took their own life in 2017, representing 262 more deaths than the previous year.

“Suicide in Australia is increasing at the same time as deaths from most physical illnesses are decreasing,” Mr Brogden said.

He called for dramatic efforts to reduce suicides in the next five years.

“We should say as a nation we want zero suicides with a target to reduce suicide in Australia by 25 per cent,” he said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics had also reported the health conditions people were experiencing at the time of their suicide, with depression, anxiety and stress the most common factors.

Drugs and alcohol use disorders were also common.

Mr Brogden suggested the country could use Scotland as an example in suicide prevention.

In 2002, the Scottish government set a target to reduce suicide by 20 per cent in 10 years, resulting in a reduction of 17 per cent.

The number of suicides in 2015 was also the lowest it had been since 1974.

The Federal Government said steps were being taken to curb suicide including the allocation of $36 million to suicide prevention projects.

Federal government mental health expenditure is expected to reach $4.6 billion this year.

Health minister Greg Hunt said suicide remained a “national tragedy”.

“One life lost to suicide is one too many,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the minister said Australia had a national target of zero suicides.

“(It’s) the only acceptable target,” she said.

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