Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

One suicide is one too many

 We need to deal with the facts of suicide and not the sensation Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said at the opening of 9th Annual National Conference on Suicide Prevention Australia in Sydney today.

“Stakeholders in suicide prevention are often guilty of making broad generalisations or misconstruing facts in order to raise the profile of the cause. It is irresponsible to use incorrect facts, broad generalisations or to sensationalise the issue to raise the profile of the cause.

“The fact is that suicide rates are at their lowest rate for a decade. There were 2,363 deaths from suicide in the year 2000, 132 fewer deaths than were recorded in 1999.

“Despite the progress, one suicide is one suicide to many.

“There is much work to be done, particularly suicide rates relating to men, indigenous people and people from rural and regional areas as:

  • Young men are three times more likely to complete suicide than young women;
  • Over the past decade, six times as many young men from rural and remote regions have completed suicide, as have young women from the same areas;
  • Indigenous people are more likely to complete suicide than non-indigenous people;
  • 86 per cent of the suicides in indigenous communities are male; and,
  • There is also evidence that separated men have a suicide rate about 6 times higher than married men and about 12 times higher than separated women.

“The Prime Minister recently announced the $48 million National Suicide Prevention Strategy, which supports community based suicide prevention projects, will be extended to June 2006.

“We are also funding programs that deal with the causes of suicide. However, suicide prevention is not just about increasing amounts of money being made available. It is about supporting each other at all times – the good and the bad.”

Mr Anthony praised the media for their handling of reporting of suicide and suicide attempts.

“In a competitive market where sensations and tragedy sells, I commend the media for generally taking a sensible and responsible approach. This greatly assists in not glamorising suicide,” Mr Anthony said.