Suicide at new high
WA has recorded its highest number of deaths by suicide in more than a decade, according to figures released last week by the Australia Bureau of Statistics.
Last year, 409 West Australians took their lives – up more than 10 per cent on the previous year.
Suicide remains the biggest killer of young West Australians aged 15 to 24, with 51 young people taking their lives in 2017.
Nationally, the suicide rate increased by 9.1 per cent over 12 months, with 3128 recorded deaths by suicide.
In 2017, suicide remained the leading cause of death of children aged from five to 17 years, with 98 deaths occurring in this age group. This represents a 10.1 per cent increase in deaths from 2016.
Lifeline chair John Brogden called on the Federal Government to set a national target to achieve a 25 per cent suicide reduction over five years.
“We must set a target to focus governments’ funding and the community on suicide reduction,” he said.
“In 2002, the Scottish Government set a target to reduce suicide by 20 per cent in 10 years.
“The number of deaths of suicide in Scotland in 2015 was the lowest it has been since 1974.”
Suicide Prevention Australia chief Nieves Murray said the figures showed suicide was a growing public health concern.
“We must use this data to strengthen our resolve,” he said.
Ms Murray said working collaboratively to prevent suicide was vital when supporting people with a complex mental illness, or drug or alcohol addiction.
“Preliminary data showed that 43 per cent of people who died by suicide in 2017 were living with a mood disorder like depression, 29.5 per cent with a drug and alcohol use disorder, and 17.5 per cent with anxiety,” she said.