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Suicide increase is cause for deep concern

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jack heath ceoAnyone touched by suicide knows the devastating impact that the loss of one person can have on family, friends and work colleagues - a loss that can linger for decades. But suicide is preventable.

So the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Causes of Death report which shows an increase in the suicide rate is a sombre reminder of the work required to reverse this statistic.

We need to ensure people can access quality mental health services when and how they need them.

And we need a renewed commitment by governments and organisations across the country to do everything we can to reverse this tragic trend.

The numbers are deeply concerning whichever way you look at them.

For the first time more than 3000 Australians died from suicide.

In the last 10 years, rates have never been higher for men aged 15-54 years or for women aged 45-54 years.

And three times more men take their lives than women.

What these statistics don’t show is the rate for the 690,000 Australians living with complex mental illness. Research shows that for these people the risk of suicide is 10-40 times higher than that for the general population.

While as a nation we have made real advances in reducing stigma around mild to moderate mental health conditions, there is a huge amount of work to be done to help those at the more severe end of the spectrum.

Stigma remains a key barrier for people living with complex mental illness seeking the help they need. We are seeing examples of people waiting more than ten years before getting a diagnosis because they don’t feel comfortable or supported to openly discuss what they are experiencing.

Alongside reducing stigma, we call for a renewed commitment by governments to reverse these sombre statistics.

Last updated: 1 March 2017