Advocacy group calls on Australia to establish minister for suicide prevention

CANBERRA, May 16 (Xinhua) — Australia’s leading suicide advocacy group has called on the nation’s next government to establish a federal minister for suicide prevention.

Suicide Prevention Australia on Thursday released its plan to reduce the number of Australians taking their lives, including establishing the new ministerial portfolio, a National Suicide Prevention Office.

Eight Australians take their lives every day on average according to a report released by the Community Council for Australia (CCA) in May. The suicide rate for indigenous Australians is twice as high as that of the non-indigenous population.

Nieves Murray, Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive, told News Corp Australia that the organization also wants workers at Centrelink – Australia’s welfare agency, financial advisers and community housing workers trained to identify people at risk of taking their own lives.

“Suicide prevention is complex and it needs to be addressed as a whole-of-government issue because it’s more than a health issue,” she said.

“For example in a community where there is a downturn in heavy industry, one of the first touch points for someone experiencing a suicidal crisis is not the hospital system or the doctor,” she said.

“It could be Centrelink but their personnel are not trained to ask the questions or help people experiencing suicidal ideation,” she added.

In 2017, 3,128 people died from intentional self-harm rising 9.1 percent from 2,866 in 2016, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Intentional self-harm was the 13th leading cause of death in Australia in 2017, up from 15th the previous year.

According to CCA, 75 percent of suicides of Australians aged over 17 were male.


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