More than 2000 Australians take their lives every year – a tragedy for individuals, for families, for communities and for the whole nation.

The June 2010 report of the Inquiry into Suicide in Australia by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee is a timely reminder of the toll suicide extracts.

The Australian Government welcomes the Committee's report The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia and the hope expressed in the Report for increased public attention and support for prevention measures that reduce the damage suicide causes.

Suicide is a complex and multidimensional issue. An individual can experience suicidality due to an infinite number of personal circumstances, including issues relating to isolation, disengagement, or instability in employment, housing, financial stress or personal relationships. We know that many service systems can influence what happens to people, and as this response shows, the Australian Government is committed to work hard across portfolios and with state and territory governments, local governments and non government organisations, community groups and individuals to reduce the damage that suicide causes.

This work needs to ensure Australians have access to targeted, effective and sustainable community-based mental health care with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention; that vulnerable families and young people are supported; that regional Australia has the services it needs.

And we are aware that more needs to be done.

The Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, in the recent election campaign, committed the Australian Government to redouble its efforts to prevent this tragedy, making clear that mental health is an important part of a second term agenda and announcing a $274 million Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package.

This package focuses on many of the concerns voiced in the Senate Committee's report, including the need for better targeted interventions for at risk groups, better support for frontline workers and preventing suicides at notorious 'hotspots'.

The Australian Government is determined to use this new investment and to build on what we know works to make a difference to the lives of Australians, their families and their communities.

Mark Butler
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
November 2010