Gerry Georgatos – By year’s end, harrowingly, Australia will record the highest ever suicide toll, in excess of 3,200 Australian lives lost. Suicide prevention is a fledgling discourse, half a century old, and changing continuously, however despite the encumbrances with the formative discourse there is much that is well understood but which is not systemically in place. The fact that what should be done for the saving and improving of lives, that it is not being done, is an indictment. 

Alarmingly, Victoria will record its highest ever suicide toll, as it tragically heads to 700 suicides by year’s end, with a hundred more suicides than last year. NSW and Queensland, each will record more than 800 suicides.

Tragically, the harrowing tragedy of First Nations suicides continues to escalate, with one in 18 deaths of First Nations people a suicide, compared to one in 50 Australian deaths a suicide. 

More than 80 percent of Australia’s child suicides aged 14 years and less have been of First Nations children, an abomination that should have the nation weeping and galvanising on the ground expert-filled outreach.

The XMAS and New Year stretch is always an elevated risk period for suicidality. We need to be on the alert for one another.

During the end of year holiday and festive stretches, I have seen far too many who have lost a loved one to suicide in the preceding months, lose their life to suicide. This has already occurred in recent days from one end of the continent to the other end.

Many mothers and fathers have taken their lives during this period after losing a child to suicide months earlier. The nation should know, so the leading cause of unnatural deaths, suicide, is at long last responded to with the various specialist supports yet not availed, but also in the meantime we all realise that we must be watchfully alert for one another through vulnerabilities in the holiday stretch.

We must disable negative behaviours, the morose, reinforce positive strengths and in no way enable treacherous, toxic negatives.

Our nation will reduce the suicides crises when we systematically recalibrate psychosocial supports, outreach counselling supports. Assertive outreach, 24/7 where possible, intense and relentless psychosocial supports, are the missing lifesaving links. We all know this but the funding for this simple systemic recalibration is not occurring. But it must occur.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, last year there were 158,493 registered deaths of which 3,046 were registered as suicides. Intentional self-harm was the 14th leading cause of death. It has the lowest median age at death of among the top 20 leading causes, at 44.4 years of age. Suicide is the 5th leading cause of death for First Nations peoples and with a dramatically much lower median age at death.

The suicide toll will be record high for 2019, for both Australia and disaggregated to First Nations.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death for both First Nations children and non-Indigenous children aged 5 to 17. Dramatically, in 2018, children aged 15 to 17 accounted for 69.2 percent of all child suicides, while females accounted for 61.5 percent of child suicide deaths.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over the five years from 2014 to 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accounted for close to a quarter of all child suicide deaths (85 of 357 deaths, 23.8%).

Australia has gone from 2,400 suicides a decade ago to 3,200 suicides. From 100 First Nations suicides a year, a little over a decade ago to approaching 200 suicides annually.