More than 3,000 Australians died by suicide in 2020, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) latest report: Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring.
The report provides insight into the mental health and wellbeing of Australians at the start of the pandemic, with the country seeing an average of around nine deaths by suicide per day.
The report indicates that males are three to four times more likely to take their own life than females, while females are more likely to attempt suicide or be hospitalised for intentional self-harm.
Tragically, suicide is also the leading cause of death for young people, being responsible for over one third of deaths in Australians aged 15-24, while suicide rates are more than twice as high in young Indigenous Australians.
The AIHW reported a slight drop in mental health-related presentations to hospital emergency departments, with the figures decreasing from 3.8 per cent in 2019-20 to 3.5 per cent in 2020-21.
Two in five people receiving assistance from specialist homelessness services also reported a mental health issue in 2020-21, which is a slight decrease on the year before.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through:
- Lifeline (13 11 14)
- Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800)
- Head to Health National Phone Service (1800 595 212, www.headtohealth.gov.au)
- Head to Health Adult Mental Health Centres (www.headtohealth.gov.au/supporting-yourself/adult-mental-health-centres)
- QLife – phone peer support service by LGBTIQ+ peers for all ages. 3pm-midnight. 1800 184 527 or webchat www.qlife.org.au
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide or bereaved by suicide - the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.
Quotes attributable to the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride MP:
“While the AIHW report doesn’t indicate a marked increase in suicide-related deaths for 2020, one death by suicide is too many.
“Demand for mental health support has surged to record levels during the pandemic and many people, particularly young people, are experiencing psychological distress for the first time.
“That’s why the Albanese Government is working to deliver a range of mental health support measures including a $200 million Student Wellbeing Boost to help school kids bounce back from the pandemic, and $44 million to improve headspace services across Australia.
“Mental health has always been bipartisan, and the Federal Government will continue to work closely with all states and territories and communities around Australia to boost support services, reduce wait times and improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.”