Health officials are “worried” about Australian suicide rates

10 September 2020

Written by: Achol Arok

Australians are encouraged to reach out on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention hotline has hit a record number of daily calls in the organisation’s 57 years. The line received 3326 calls on Tuesday, a 33 percent rise from the same day last year.

With the impact of COVID-19,  Lifeline has broken monthly records between March and June as they received 90,000 calls a month. During this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, health officials urge Australians to speak to someone as they deal with the fallout of COVID-19.

John Brogden Lifeline’s chairman he says is worried about COVID-19 impacts on Australia’s suicide rates.

“When people lose their job, they lose their family, they lose their home and they risk losing their life,” he said.

Lifeline expects its 4500 crisis supporters will talk or chat to more than one million people through its phone and web-chat services this year. With this increase, Brogden says he appreciates the 10,000 volunteers who have offered their time.

“This year, we have asked a lot from our volunteers, we are very grateful to all who have worked additional shifts and continually put up their hand to ensure we can be here to support every Australian who needs us,” he said

Today on R U OK? Day, Australians are encouraged to get in touch with anyone they are worried about and stress the importance of staying connected.

Katherine Newton, R U OK? CEO, says it is even more important to start conversations about mental health under our current circumstances.

“That’s an understandable reaction and it’s why this year we’re reminding Australians there’s more to say after R U OK?” she said.

“It’s important we know how to keep the conversation going because a conversation really can change a life.”

In recent months JobKeeper has helped millions of Australian and John Brogden believes that when it ends it will have major consequences for mental health and suicide.

“Governments need to be prepared with significantly more funding and resources for mental health and suicide prevention after COVID-19,” he said.

The Australian Government is launching vital suicide prevention aftercare services in all six states and territories as well as providing a further $19 million to extend national suicide prevention services. This builds on the record estimated $5.7 billion the government has allocated to mental health alone this year.

Learn what to say after R U OK? at ruok.org.au

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au

Beyond Blue’s coronavirus support service: 1800 512 348 or coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au

 


Photo: R U OK? day 2015 by Monash University available here and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.