WA has recorded its highest number of deaths by suicide in more than a decade, according to figures released today by the Australia Bureau of Statistics.
Last year, 409 West Australians took their own lives – up more than 10 per cent on the previous year.
Suicide remains the biggest killer of young West Australians aged between 15 and 24, with 51 young people taking their own lives in 2017.
Nationally, the suicide rate increased by 9.1 per cent over 12 months with 3128 recorded deaths by suicide.
In 2017, suicide remained the leading cause of death of children between five and 17 years of age, with 98 deaths occurring in this age group. This represents a 10.1 per cent increase in deaths from 2016.
Lifeline chair John Brogden called on the Federal Government to set a national target to achieve a 25 per cent suicide reduction over five years.
“We must set a target to focus governments’ funding and the community on suicide reduction,” he said.
“In 2002, the Scottish Government set a target to reduce suicide by 20 per cent in 10 years.
“The number of deaths of suicide in Scotland in 2015 was the lowest it has been since 1974.”
Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nieves Murray said the statistics showed suicide was a growing public health concern.
“We must use this data to strengthen our resolve,” he said.
“To each take personal responsibility for preventing suicide and by speaking up when we suspect someone is struggling.
“(We can also help) by supporting people with lived experience of suicide and those working at the front line of suicide prevention and crisis support.”
Ms Murray said working collaboratively to prevent suicide was particularly important when supporting people living with a complex mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction.
“Preliminary data showed that 43 per cent of people who died by suicide in 2017 were living with a mood disorder like depression, 29.5 per cent with a drug and alcohol use disorder, and 17.5 per cent with anxiety,” she said.
“From previous research we know that people living with a complex mental illness are 13 to 45 times more likely to take their own life their own life than those living without mental illness.
“That’s why it’s so important that the mental health and suicide prevention sectors work together.”
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline (for young people aged 5 to 25 years): 1800 55 1800