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Local solutions to our national problem

THE latest national suicide statistics cannot be read with anything but deep concern.
Nanjing Night Net

Released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week, the figures reveal thatAustralia’s suicide rate rose to 12 per 100,000 people in 2014,the highest level since 2001.

Further, the numbers showthat in the 10years to 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44, and that while men in that age group are almost twice as likely to take their own lives aswomen, the rate of suicide in women aged 15 to24 jumped by 50 per cent inthe same period.

The statistics in the Hunter are similarly sobering.

In a summary paper, the Black Dog Institute, a mental health research not-for-profit organisation, identifies the Newcastle local government area as having the highest hospitaladmission rates for suicide attemptsin the state, as well as one of the highest suicide rates.

Given thatcontext, it might seem foolish to suggest that there is reason for hope.

But there is.

Practical strategies toaddressthesuicide rate alreadyexist, and at present, because of its high rate of suicide attempts, Newcastle is a candidate for the trial of a multi-pronged“systems-approach” which incorporates nine strategies, fromtraining GPs to continuity of care after a hospital discharge.

Manyof thesestrategies are simple, and couldeasily implementable.For example, as Dr HelenChristensen from the Black Dog Institute points out, whilea past suicide attempt is one ofthe best indicators of a future attempt,more than half of the people who are admitted to an emergency department after attempting suicidesee less than 15 minutes of medical care after they leave.

The institute estimates the new program wouldreduce suicide rates by 20 per cent, meaning saving 28 lives per year across the Hunter New England district, and preventing 450 self-harm related hospital admissions, based on data held by NSW Health.

Perversely, the statistics also show with stark clarity the truthat the heartof themessage that mental health professionals have been stressing for many years.

That is,you are not alone.

Issue: 48,179

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 224 636

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

MensLine Australia 1300 789 978

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