New ABS data: community focus key to long-term suicide prevention strategy

New ABS data: community focus key to long-term suicide prevention strategy

Vigilance, persistence and a community-based focus must be at the centre of a national suicide prevention strategy, according to Wesley Mission following the release today of the ABS 2014 data on causes of death by self-harm.

The latest data shows that 2864 people took their own lives in 2014. The rate has increased from 10.9 deaths by suicide per 100,000 Australians in 2013 to 12.0 deaths in 2014.

Wesley Mission which founded Lifeline in 1963 and continues to operate Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland also provides suicide prevention training through Wesley LifeForce. It believes an enduring community focus will be an important factor in addressing Australia’s suicide rate.

“Suicide does not discriminate: it touches all sections of society and calls for a whole of community, preventive approach,” Dr Garner said. “People need to know that they are not alone.

“Deaths can be prevented: simple effective interventions can make a difference and save lives.”

The latest figures show that the rate is highest among males over 85 years.

“As our population ages more Australians will be living on their own and not by choice,” Dr Garner said. “We need connected and integrated communities that build awareness, skills resilience and capacity.  Too many of our fellow Australians are living without hope

Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland answered more than 33,000 calls last year while Wesley LifeForce has trained more than 30,000 Australians in suicide prevention. The training helps people identify when someone may be at risk of suicide and then take appropriate action like linking the person to a qualified health professional.

Wesley LifeForce has also helped establish and support more than 60 suicide prevention community networks across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia.

“Suicide prevention networks are one of the most effective ways of raising community awareness about suicide,” Dr Garner said. “The networks empower members to develop appropriate local suicide prevention strategies. They are also supported by suicide prevention education and skills training, including a new culturally appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait program.

“The national training program helps people in the community recognise when someone they know may be at risk of suicide. It provides resources and tools for them to then take appropriate action, linking the person to a qualified health professional. The networks are also effective because they address the specific needs of a community at a grass roots level.”

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