Last Sunday it was Father’s Day. On Sunday night a friend of mine posted a heartbreaking video showing her three-year-old daughter crying in bed. Through her tears, she kept repeating the same four words: “I want my daddy”.
Lying next to her daughter was her mum, also in tears and trying to console her child.
The little girl’s dad died last year. He hung himself. He was 37 years old, a father to two children and an active member of our community.
He is just ONE of the 3,318 people who committed suicide during the past 12 months of the pandemic.
It’s also been estimated that suicide has impacted directly or indirectly five million people last year. Five million. Let that number sink in.
Deaths from Covid last year: 1,012. Deaths from Suicide: 3,318
The findings are from Suicide Prevention Australia’s second State of the Nation report, which will be officially released on World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 (Friday, 10 September).
Below are some of the key stats:
- Australia’s annual suicide rate (3,318) are currently more-than-three times that of deaths from COVID-19 (1,012).
- In the past year, one in four (25%) Australians say they know someone in their personal life or networks, who has died by or attempted suicide either directly (15%) or indirectly (11%).
- More than one in four (27%) Australians say they have either directly (16%) or indirectly (16%) sought help or searched for advice from a suicide prevention service in the past 12 months.
Social isolation a main cause of suicide
We all know how tough the past 18 months have been. Many Australians are looking at over 200 days of lockdowns. Social isolation. Job losses. Families split apart. Events cancelled.
These things have an enormous impact on our world and our mental wellbeing and these new numbers clearly showcase this.
Statistics also reveals the biggest risk to suicide rates over the next 12 months:
- Social isolation and loneliness – 64%
- Unemployment and job insecurity – 58%
- Family and relationship breakdowns – 57%
- Cost of living and personal debt – 55%
- Drugs and alcohol – 53%
All of these risks have been made so much worse during the pandemic. We shared a tragic story last year of a 13-year-old boy who took his own life due to the stress of social isolation. Again, this is just one of MANY lives lost.
But what can be done to help those who are struggling?
Call for Suicide Prevention Act
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said history showed major increases in suicide were linked to major social and economic events. She explains,
There have never been more lives lost to suicide in this country.
Australia needs a national Suicide Prevention Act and we need to act now. We all have a role to play in preventing suicide. An Act will legislate a whole-of-government priority to prevent suicide and focus the attention of every agency to address the risk of suicide across our community.
Suicide prevention isn’t limited to health portfolios. Housing is suicide prevention, employment is suicide prevention, finance is suicide prevention, and education is suicide prevention.”
Support for those who need it
Two-thirds of Australians (66%) back the Federal Government introducing a standalone national suicide prevention act requiring all government decisions to consider and mitigate suicide risks two years in a row.
We’ve seen how quickly COVID-19 cases can get out of hand and we need to have the same national policy focus and vigilance to stop suicide rates doing the same.
The fact an overwhelming majority of Australians support this low-cost, low-risk, low-impact, high-outcome option should be the green light the Federal Government needs.”
Where to get help/find out more
- Suicide Prevention Australia – the peak body for suicide prevention in Australia
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.