Australia

Harm, family ruin the top indicators for suicide, according to new report

0:00

A new analysis of data about deaths referred to coroners has highlighted the top indicators for people at risk of committing suicide.

Indigenous Australians who commit suicide are twice as likely to have been having family problems as non-indigenous people.

They are also twice as likely to have had problems related to legal circumstances.

A new analysis of mortality data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released on Wednesday, has examined the psychosocial factors associated with deaths referred to coroners in 2017.

It found that nearly two-thirds of the 3127 suicide deaths had at least one risk factor, and many had more than one.

In general, the most common risk factor was a history of self-harm.

"What that says is that we need to work much more closely with those who have been discharged from hospital after having been admitted for self-harm or for suicidality or a suicide attempt," Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News.

0:00
Female teen suicide on the rise: Meet the young woman who avoided becoming a statistic
Female teen suicide on the rise: Meet the young woman who avoided becoming a statistic

But among the indigenous population, the top risk factor was problems in the relationship with their spouse or partner, affecting 20 per cent of people who died.

This compares with just over nine per cent of non-indigenous people, for whom it was the third-rated risk factor.

And about 13 per cent of the indigenous deaths examined were people who had had legal problems, compared with six per cent of non-indigenous.

The proportion who had risk factors of self-harm, disruption of their family by separation and divorce, and the disappearance or death of a family member was about the same across both indigenous and non-indigenous groups.

Mr Hunt said it was not a surprise that self-harm and family breakdowns - including divorce, separation, death or domestic violence - were the top indicators of suicide but it was sobering and powerful information.

The government is funding programs to support people who are discharged from hospital after self-harm or suicide attempts, helping to set up a real-time monitoring database to identify clusters that may be developing, and establishing a network of adult mental health centres.

0:00
Melbourne's South Sudanese youth say they're sick of losing their friends to suicide
Melbourne's South Sudanese youth say they're sick of losing their friends to suicide

"We're supporting services for that dark moment, 3am, it's the middle of the night, somebody has reached a point of despair," Mr Hunt said.

"It's the combination here of the online or the telephone, or the face-to-face that can help somebody."

Readers seeking support and information about self harm and suicide can contact Lifeline 24 hours a day online and on 13 11 14. Other services include the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline (for people aged five to 25) on 1800 55 1800. More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch