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Do you want suicide figures published? [With poll]

By johnboy - 28 March 2012 51

The Greens’ Amanda Bresnan is calling for an end to to the Catholic driven taboo on discussing suicide:

ACT Greens Health spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, will today call on the ACT Legislative Assembly to break the silence on suicide, by having figures on the ACT suicide toll released to the public biannually.

“There is a great deal of stigma when it comes to talking about suicide. Experts such as 2010 Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry and leading community and mental health organisations have long advised that public reporting of suicide should occur. We need to break the silence if we are to ease the suffering of people who confront the issue and save lives,” Ms Bresnan said today.

“Because of the lack of discussion, many in the community are not aware that suicide is the leading killer of our young people. It is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 44 and women under the age of 34 in Australia.

“There is a considerable difference between community awareness and government campaigning about road safety, for example, in comparison to suicide prevention, even though the suicide rate is about two to three times higher.

“According to the ABS Cause of Deaths report released last week, at least 35 people died in the ACT as a result of intention to self-harm in 2010, and all were aged between 15 and 55. However, suicides are underreported and the figure may be higher.

“I am calling on the Minister for Health to table these figures twice a year in the Assembly, to keep the focus on the issue and encourage discussion. The community needs to be able to talk publicly about suicide.

So what do you think of this proposal deal reader?

Reporting of suicide numbers

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51 Responses to
Do you want suicide figures published? [With poll]
16
Thumper 10:34 am
28 Mar 12
#

nobody said :

In the recent decade society has taken a great step forward and started openly and honestly talking about depression. This change from the previous silent suffering has made a huge improvement to many people and to their families. People suffering depression are now more likely to say something about their pain to a friend or relative, and more likely to find the assistance they require to get better.

So, I agree, talking more openly and honestly about suicide should also be beneficial to those who think of suicide but are suffering in silence, to friends and families, and to the broader community.

In regards to publishing numbers, talking about the number of road fatalities per year helps raise awareness to the size of this problem, reminds people to take care, and encourages the broader community to try and get this down to the target of zero. So yes, table the figures in the assembly.

+1

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17
Tooks 10:35 am
28 Mar 12
#

CitizenK said :

Of course no one is ‘talking about’ a tally board on the front page of newspapers – but it would happen. Mark my words.

Tooks said :

CitizenK said :

Studies have shown that publicising suicide numbers increases the subsequent number of suicide attempts.
I am all for all the appropriate agencies, services, mental health units, community groups knowing all this information – and more, but imagine the Canberra Times (or the tabloids, newspapers and TV shows…) having a tally board on their front page. Suicides to date: Last year to date (a target?)… you think they wouldn’t do this? think again (School and hospital ranking tables etc??)
It is not necessary to hide these figures but please don’t give the poor quality Australian media an opportunity to play games with the numbers.

They’re not talking about having a tally board on the front page of the CT, they’re talking about releasing the suicide toll to the public bi-annually. I think this is a good idea.

You were talking about it. It’s a stupid suggestion and it would never happen in a million years.

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18
TheDancingDjinn 10:44 am
28 Mar 12
#

I’ll post again just quick – this might be a good idea, might it not give some idea of how many times this happens, so then maybe more funding and what not will go into making sure people don’t get to the point where they feel the need to end their lives?.

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19
CitizenK 11:02 am
28 Mar 12
#

Being at work today, I don’t have time to dig out the research, but there is plenty. Here is some at http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14204639

An extract…

… Results. A logistic regression analysis determined that characteristics of the [media] stories were key predictors of finding a copycat effect. Studies measuring the presence of either an entertainment or political celebrity suicide were 14.3 times more likely to find a copycat effect than studies that did not. Studies based on real stories as opposed to fictional stories were 4.03 times more apt to uncover an imitation effect. The medium of coverage was a significant predictor of copycat effects with televised stories being 82 percent less likely to affect suicide than newspaper-based stories…

So maybe we should be more worried about the TV reportage than the newspaper….

You can not ignore the copycat effect – it is real, and if figures are published without other prevention mechanisms put in place, then I have no doubt that numbers in subsequent years would increase.

Who wants that on their conscience?

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20
Lookout Smithers 11:09 am
28 Mar 12
#

I can’t see the problem with it. I don’t know that suicide is always directly linked to mental health. Insomuch as one can be suddenly given an untenable situation and just then decide to opt out? I guess it could be argued but if until that point, no symptoms manifest themselves visually to others? Has this person a mental health issue? Discuss.

Give the cops a break, ACT mental health is worse in dealing with outpatients! Apart from that everyone is dog s*** in dealing with it.

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21
mp2615 11:09 am
28 Mar 12
#

Official data relating to suicides do not tell the full story. For example, lots of drug overdoses and single vehicle accidents are not categorised as suicide.

I think it would be a good idea to have the ACT toll published biannually. It gives the opportunity to tag the results with useful contact numbers and links for people (and their family and friends) who may be thinking about self harm.

I don’t think publishing aggregated counts will lead to an increased suicide rate. Knowing the groups at risk are is a big step towards being able to help.

I hope the media would continue what seems to be the current practice of sensitive reporting.

Lifeline 131 114 is a free confidential service which operates 24/7 providing support and information for people experiencing crisis.

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22
pajs 12:21 pm
28 Mar 12
#

Another part of the issue is the scale at which you’d release the numbers. Jurisdiction-wide only, or something more fine-grained?

I guess I generally favour publishing the data, at a sensible scale, anticipating the need to do something extra about the copycat risk.

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23
HenryBG 12:36 pm
28 Mar 12
#

CitizenK said :

Studies have shown that publicising suicide numbers increases the subsequent number of suicide attempts.

Yes, let’s not provide any information to the proles lest they become dangerous.

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24
astrojax 12:38 pm
28 Mar 12
#

provided there is some context with the figures, i don’t have a great issue…

http://www.ruokday.com.au/content/home.aspx

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25
Holden Caulfield 12:39 pm
28 Mar 12
#

CitizenK said :

Being at work today, I don’t have time to dig out the research, but there is plenty. Here is some at http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14204639

An extract…

… Results. A logistic regression analysis determined that characteristics of the [media] stories were key predictors of finding a copycat effect. Studies measuring the presence of either an entertainment or political celebrity suicide were 14.3 times more likely to find a copycat effect than studies that did not. Studies based on real stories as opposed to fictional stories were 4.03 times more apt to uncover an imitation effect. The medium of coverage was a significant predictor of copycat effects with televised stories being 82 percent less likely to affect suicide than newspaper-based stories…

So maybe we should be more worried about the TV reportage than the newspaper….

You can not ignore the copycat effect – it is real, and if figures are published without other prevention mechanisms put in place, then I have no doubt that numbers in subsequent years would increase.

Who wants that on their conscience?

If only the current regime of not reporting suicide was working well.

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26
butterbread 1:14 pm
28 Mar 12
#

It was my understanding that the figures can be published as long as they don’t report how the individuals chose to end their life?

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27
keepitup 1:22 pm
28 Mar 12
#

Myles Peterson said :

Report the stats.

And end the AFP media unit crying “mental health issue” whenever they don’t want something covered.

Most be people would be surprised (, or maybe not,) over how much goes unreported in this creepy, secret-obsessed city.

How would you know that – if it’s unreported.

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28
unclebill 1:30 pm
28 Mar 12
#

ABC report today says 250 people put themselves in the path of trains last year with 150 successfully ending their lives. A new safety body called Tracksafe has been formed to help stop this waste of lives. Perhaps this is why ACT pollies are disinclined to look at light rail public transport options?.

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29
Rawhide Kid Part3 1:50 pm
28 Mar 12
#

I’m just wondering how many of those single vehicle accidents are indeed suicides or attempted suicides.

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30
caf 1:59 pm
28 Mar 12
#

CitizenK said :

You can not ignore the copycat effect – it is real, and if figures are published without other prevention mechanisms put in place, then I have no doubt that numbers in subsequent years would increase.

Those studies show the copycat effect when the details of individual incidents are reported. This is far removed from a dry bi-annual statistic.

In general I am suspicious when I am told that information is being withheld from us for our own good, so I support this measure.

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