Rising suicide nationally, requires more action locally

Story by Lisa Wachsmuth Illawarra Mercury

There was 3128 deaths by suicide across the nation last year, rising 9.1 per cent from 2866 in 2016, new data reveals.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Causes of Death report, released Wednesday, showed intentional self-harm was ranked the 13th leading cause of death in 2017, up from 15th in 2016.

Deaths to suicide occurred among males at a rate more than three times greater than that for females.

Ms Norris said the release of these figures would be heartbreaking for those who had lost someone to suicide.

“The statistics show that while the rates of suicide fell in some states, they increased in NSW from 805 to 880,” she said.

“While we don’t know regionally what that means, what this information tells us is that we have some way to go to find the best range of strategies to support communities.”

Lifeline South Coast answered 23,814 calls during 2017 – 20,957 of those calls specifically discussed suicide.

Ms Norris said while it was tough that there was so much demand for the counselling service, it was also heartening that so many people were reaching out for help.

“These statistics only strengthen our resolve to increase our understanding of how complex and multi-faceted the issue is,” she said.

“We know in our community there’s a strong commitment to gain that understanding, and to find solutions.”

Ms Norris encouraged locals to train to become telephone counsellors with Lifeline, or to undertake suicide prevention training to support those close to them.

“We all have a role to play in suicide prevention,” she said.

“Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone crisis support line is the central part of what we do, but we’re also working with other organisations to make community members to become more suicide aware.

“There’s a range of training options available on our website including the online QPR (Question Persuade Refer) training, our ASIST training and accidental counsellor training.

“We want more people to be more skilled at being able to have these supportive conversations with those around them.”

For crisis support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467.

(article first published in Illawarra Mercury)