Most common risk factors for suicide revealed

Nearly two-thirds of the 3127 suicide deaths had at least one risk factor, and many had more than one.
Nearly two-thirds of the 3127 suicide deaths had at least one risk factor, and many had more than one.

INDIGENOUS Australians who commit suicide are twice as likely to have been having family problems as non-indigenous people.

They are also twice as likely to have had problems related to legal circumstances.

A new analysis of mortality data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released on Wednesday, has examined the psychosocial factors associated with deaths referred to coroners in 2017.

It found that nearly two-thirds of the 3127 suicide deaths had at least one risk factor, and many had more than one.

In general, the most common risk factor was a history of self-harm.

Health Minister Greg Hunt.

“What that says is that we need to work much more closely with those who have been discharged from hospital after having been admitted for self-harm or for suicidality or a suicide attempt,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News.

But among the indigenous population, the top risk factor was problems in the relationship with their spouse or partner, affecting 20 per cent of people who died.

This compares with just over nine per cent of non-indigenous people, for whom it was the third-rated risk factor.

And about 13 per cent of the indigenous deaths examined were people who had had legal problems, compared with six per cent of non-indigenous.

The proportion who had risk factors of self-harm, disruption of their family by separation and divorce, and the disappearance or death of a family member was about the same across both indigenous and non-indigenous groups.

Indigenous Australians who commit suicide are twice as likely to have been having family problems as non-indigenous people.

Mr Hunt said it was not a surprise that self-harm and family breakdowns – including divorce, separation, death or domestic violence – were the top indicators of suicide but it was sobering and powerful information.

The government is funding programs to support people who are discharged from hospital after self-harm or suicide attempts, helping to set up a real-time monitoring database to identify clusters that may be developing, and establishing a network of adult mental health centres.

“We’re supporting services for that dark moment, 3am, it’s the middle of the night, somebody has reached a point of despair,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s the combination here of the online or the telephone, or the face-to-face that can help somebody.”

Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Head to Health www.headtohealth.gov.au