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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]
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DJ Mac 7:18 am 03 Apr 12

I’m all dead-set against the suicide taboo, and it is HIGH TIME we dispensed with the Catholic-driven head-in-the-sand attitude.

While I acknowledge that the Catholic Church has a very strong anti suicide stance – there is no stated policy on the publication of suicide figures – there is no policy against discussing it – so why this attitude against this one religious group in particular? I can’t think of any religious group that considers taking your own life a good thing.

The policy against publication was made in response to the Psychological professional community believing that it was a bad thing NOT any particular religious group. So let’s get away from this blame game and actually discuss the issue.

dundle 9:44 pm 02 Apr 12

I know one of those 35. I think in some ways more reporting is good – it’s good to break the silence and have people know about warning signs etc.

On the other hand, we do get a fair bit of advertising in warnings signs way without going into specifics and maybe that’s good enough. Also, sometimes there aren’t warning signs, and stats might just be used to satisfy morbid curiosity. As someone posted above, they have found a copycat effect, and while those of us in a relatively healthy frame of mind might want publication, who knows what people who are less healthy would think if they are faced with more information on this – I don’t think it’s necessarily true they will either do it or they won’t regardless.

So…I’m undecided.

ThatUniStudent 9:09 am 29 Mar 12

Prove it. Please provide a link to those studies.
I’m not saying you’re wring, but too many ‘facts’ stated on the RA just seem to be people’s opinions. Back it up with proof please.

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.

debk41 7:44 am 29 Mar 12

I think this a great idea, my husband took his own life in 2002 at the age of 32, I never hid it from the kids and we often speak openly about it, our son was just 2 at the time, the girls aged 4, 5, 8 and10 at the time, i wanted them to grow up knowing it was nothing that any of us did but his choice to take his own life and that we could get through it,I think a lot of people sweep it under the carpet but i believe suicide shouldn’t be

cleo 3:45 am 29 Mar 12

Well it is Canberra after all, lets just sweep everything under the carpet, and maybe just maybe everything will go away.

bd84 11:38 pm 28 Mar 12

Information regarding the number of suicides needs to be out there for community awareness, however the details of method do not. Nor do I think that these details need to be tabled in the legislative assembly twice a year. Sure the information needs to be made available for politicians and the community to make informed decisions regarding support and funding, but I very much doubt that the difference between two, six month period will make a significant difference in the scheme of things. I’m sure much more information regarding the finer details are available to the people who need it.

NickD 9:12 pm 28 Mar 12

Given that the ABS regularly releases these data, I’m not sure why the ACT Government needs to do so as well.

As Amanda Bresnan notes in her press release, the ABS released data on the number of suicides per state last week (see Tab 11.5 in the the Suicide (Australia) Excel file at http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3303.02010?OpenDocument ). This is an annual publication.

Given that the number of suicides in the ACT has varied little over the last 10 years and is the third-lowest rate in Australia (which isn’t bad considering our relatively young population structure), it’s hard to see what benefit there is in the ACT government producing and tabling figures twice a year. I think that Bresnan’s head is in the right place, but this isn’t a practical way of doing anything about suicide.

Kate_Greens 4:34 pm 28 Mar 12

A Senate Committee Report from 2010 on this issue recommended that:

“the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, in consultation with the National Committee for Standardised Reporting on Suicide, standardise coronial legislation and practices to improve the accurate reporting of suicide.”

Senate report is available at http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=clac_ctte/suicide/report/index.htm

Mr Gillespie 4:21 pm 28 Mar 12

We get reminded of the road toll through the media on a daily basis even though the leading causes of death are cancer, heart attack/failure, etc. while “road trauma” accounts for a relatively small percentage yet takes up 80% of the media’s death reportage.

I’m all dead-set against the suicide taboo, and it is HIGH TIME we dispensed with the Catholic-driven head-in-the-sand attitude.

p1 4:19 pm 28 Mar 12

videodrome said :

“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.”

How can suicides be underreported? Surely the coroner knows the cause of death in every case?

Example: Car drives off road at high speed and into tree. Did person intend to die?

Example: Person over doses on heroin. Did they intend to die?

videodrome 4:04 pm 28 Mar 12

“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.”

How can suicides be underreported? Surely the coroner knows the cause of death in every case?

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