In Australia an average of eight people take their own lives every day; that’s one every three hours.
Over the years countless organisations have been created to bring this too often overlooked issue into the light, but despite all the campaigns around suicide prevention staged in the past 20 years rates are continuing to rise.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and this year’s theme is ‘Take a minute, change a life’ to encourage us to take a minute to think about personal attitudes and behaviours around suicide.
In order to remind us of just how many Aussie families are touched by suicide each year we thought we’d compile a few startling facts that highlight the sheer scale of the issue.
Australia’s suicide rate is at its highest level in 13 years
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) our suicide rate recently hit a 13-year high. In 2015, 3,027 Australians took their own lives.
The increase can be largely attributed to a rise in the suicide rate among middle-aged and young women.
Men are three times more likely to take their own lives
While we’ve recently seen an increase in the suicide rate among women, males remain 300% more likely to take their own lives than females.
According to the ABS, “age-specific deaths rates for males aged between 40 and 54 were all greater than 30 deaths per 100,000 males. Suicide accounted for 12.4% of all male deaths for these combined age groups. The age-specific suicide rate for males was lowest in the 15-19 year age group (11.8 deaths per 100,000 males), yet suicide accounted for 28.6% of all deaths in that age group.”
Indigenous suicide rates are between two and four times those of non-Indigenous Australians in the 15 and 44 age groups
While suicide is a big problem across our entire society, for Australia’s Aboriginal peoples, it’s at epidemic proportions.
As the esteemed suicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos recently wrote in The Guardian Australia the figures below may not even represent the full extent of the issue.
“Suicide accounts for more than 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths… In fact in my estimations, because of under-reporting issues, suicide accounts for 10% of indigenous deaths.”
According to hospital data, in the 2008-2009 financial year 62% of people who were hospitalised due to self-harm were female
Despite the fact that men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women, females account for more than 60% of hospitalisations from self-harm. And this is a phenomenon that is far from being exclusive to Australia.
According to UK based Psychology professor Daniel Freeman this discrepancy is largely due to the different means that the two genders use when attempting suicide.
All states and territories except South Australia and Victoria reported a stable or increasing suicide rate from 2014 to 2015
With the exception of South Australia and Victoria, all states and territories saw their suicide rate rise in 2015.
Chief executive of Suicide Prevention Australia, Sue Murray, recently told the ABC’s Mazoe Ford that there’s been a 26% increase in the suicide rate among women, a trend that has greatly contributed to the nation’s rising suicide rates.
“We have seen a 26 per cent increase in the suicide rates among women and the numbers of suicides among women (rise) over the last five year period.”
Over the past 5 years the suicide rate in Adelaide has increased, while the rate has decreased across the rest of South Australia
One of the primary reasons that South Australia’s suicide rate has dropped in recent times is because less people in the state’s rural areas are taking their own lives.
So, despite the rate rising in Adelaide, the massive drop in rural areas has still lead to an overall decrease.
To connect to a community event to mark World Suicide Prevention Day check out the official website: http://wspd.org.au/events/
If you’ve lost someone to suicide and are looking for support services please get in touch with our Living Beyond Suicide team on 1300 761 193.
For support regarding suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Photography by: Jessica Owen