Australia

More than 10 million Australians impacted by suicide

More than 3,000 people died by suicide in Australia in 2017. Source: Getty

A poll has found 56 per cent of Australian adults personally know someone who has died by suicide.

More than 10 million Australian adults know someone who has died by suicide, according to a new poll.

The poll, commissioned by Suicide Prevention Australia and released Sunday, examined suicide's reach into the broader community.

It found 56 per cent of adults personally know someone who has died by suicide, while 50 per cent of Australians aged 18-24 knew at least one such person.

CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia Nieves Murray.
CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia Nieves Murray.
SBS

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said it is important to remember that "suicide does not just impact the individual who has died but clearly their family, their friends, their workplace and their broader community".

"The ripple effect of one suicide is very profound," Ms Murray told SBS News.

According to the latest data available, 3,128 people died by suicide in Australia in 2017.

Ms Murray said the study also looked into psychosocial risk factors around suicide, with some surprising results.

"It's not just mental health issues that impact a person's fragility or risk of suicide. In fact, it's things like relationship breakdowns or changes in family circumstances," Ms Murray said.

"Suicide is beyond mental health. It's much more than that. It's about relationships, it's about economic stability."

Ms Murray urged all Australians to reach out to anyone they believe may be doing it tough.

"There's a misconception that [asking about suicide] may trigger or lead to suicide, but this is a myth that needs to be busted," she said.

"Often just asking a question is enough to pull the person away from that point of crisis, back to take a broader perspective ... By asking a question you could prevent someone from taking their life."

She said the largest group of people in Australia who die by suicide are middle-aged men.

The Morrison government recently appointed a national suicide prevention adviser and has committed to delivering a whole-of-government approach to the issue.

Ms Murray commended this action but said more needs to be done at all levels of government.

"The number of people who die by suicide is double the road toll and it's certainly something we can do more about."

The YouGov poll was undertaken between 14-17 August and had a sample size of 1,064 adults.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). 

More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.

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