Suicide the leading cause of death for young and middle aged Australians

WARNING: this post contains material that some may find upsetting and confronting, if you feel depressed and unsafe, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14

In 2012 there were 2,535 deaths, a rate of 11.2 per 100,000 people which is the equivalent to around seven (7) per day – 37 men and 12 women each week (Beyondblue, 25 March 2014).

If these alarming statistics were attributed to motor vehicle accidents, crime related, or from any type of disease or disaster there would be outrage, the media would be all over it, politicians would be demanding answers, organisations would be wanting more funding.

But these deaths aren’t from any of these causes. These deaths are the number of people who have committed suicide in 2012. What is more alarming is that for Australians aged between 15 and 44 years of age, male or female, suicide is the leading cause of death. When you take into consideration how many people attempt suicide on top of these deaths it becomes apparent that the magnitude of mental illness in our community is reaching epidemic proportions.

These deaths not only represent a tragedy for our society they are a reflection on the magnitude of mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety, in Australia. With rates of mental illness increasing every year, with significant shortages in the mental health workforce and insufficient mental health services to meet demands it is likely that suicides will increase even more, with the rate of deaths heading towards a decade high.

From Sad Mum Happy Mum… and statistics regarding suicide and mental illness in our society deeply concerns me, not just because I suffer from major depression and have attempted to take my own life a number of times but because I fear for our next generation. The rates of mental illness are set to increase, the demand on services will not be met and with this suicide rates will reach all time highs. A dark and very sad picture that not just Australians face, but is a world wide issue.

Deaths by suicide are very much the silent deaths of our community. Stigma attached to mental illness and suicide drive these statistics higher, isolate those with a mental illness and impact their ability to seek help, receive help and be supported.

As an individual I don’t profess to be a professional in the field of mental health but I am a survivor and someone who continues to live through a world impacted significantly every day by my own mental illness. It is not just the daily impact on me but it is the added stress of receiving the right help in a timely manner that is affordable and appropriate. I am a lot better off than a lot of others with the same illness, for some their circumstances are a lot worse and help less available.

For me, I hope that by writing I can be a voice in the fight against stigma, in the fight for more services and in promoting the real experience of those around us living with a mental illness.


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