Australia

Australia has just got a new national suicide prevention adviser to tackle the mental health crisis

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed Christine Morgan as Australia's national suicide prevention officer.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to see a dramatic drop in the number of people who take their own lives and has appointed a new adviser in a move aimed at curbing the mental health crisis

In a step towards tackling the crisis, chief executive of the National Mental Health Commission Christine Morgan has been named Australia's national suicide prevention adviser.

"Suicide takes far too many Australians, devastating families and local communities," Mr Morrison said in a statement on Monday.

"One life lost to suicide is one too many, which is why my government is working towards a zero suicide goal."

Mr Morrison said about 80 per cent of people who took their own lives had mental health issues, although there was a range of factors and circumstances surrounding such deaths.

"That's why I am committed to taking all necessary action to tackle this issue, ensuring Australian families, communities and those facing challenges get the support they need," he said.

National suicide figures show, on average, six men take their lives in Australia each day. But new research released in May found suicidal behaviour could be up to three times higher than some estimates.

The Beyond the Emergency study by Turning Point and Monash University found there were 30,197 ambulance attendances for men who had thoughts of suicide or had attempted suicide in the year from July 2015 – around 82 attendances a day.

Earlier this year, a peak body for suicide prevention called on the government to appoint a minister to oversee the issueCurrently, the responsibility for suicide prevention belongs to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt.

“Suicide prevention is complex and it needs to be addressed as a whole-of-government issue because it’s more than a health issue,” Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said.

According to Mr Morrison's statement, Ms Morgan will work alongside the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Mr Hunt to oversee a government-wide approach to suicide prevention.

Mr Morrison added that the government would continue to support groups most at risk of suicide, including Indigenous Australians, veterans and young people.

Prior to her appointment, Ms Morgan was the director of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration, a government-funded initiative.

She left her position as CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, which provides support for Australians with eating disorders, in March.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or a local Aboriginal Health ServiceSuicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe. Indigenous Australian psychologist services can be found here.  More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.

With Aaron Fernandes

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