ACT News

Lifeline wants 1 million to sign petition for funding for suicide prevention

Lifeline is calling for the federal government to double funding to suicide prevention, as almost eight people take their lives every day in Australia.

A steep rise in death by suicide among middle-aged Australians and young women has driven the national suicide rate to its highest level in 13 years.

Lifeline wants more funding for suicide prevention.
Lifeline wants more funding for suicide prevention. 

The shocking data, published on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has prompted the national phone crisis service to launch an online petition to push the case for more money.

Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel says the government should acknowledge the "growing national suicide emergency".

"We know the profound impact that suicide can have on individuals, families, friends and whole communities," he said on Thursday.

"In seeking a million signatures through this campaign, we want to empower everyday Australians to join together and take important steps towards the goal of stopping suicides.

"The number of deaths by suicide is more than double the road toll, and yet government funding for road safety is double that for suicide prevention.

"Furthermore, while we have seen a 25 per cent decrease in the number of motor vehicle deaths over the past 10 years, the number of suicides has increased significantly in this time.

"By sharing Lifeline's online petition via social media or email, we have the opportunity to create a groundswell of support to show the government that we as a community care about this issue, we do not accept this needless loss of life and we want to do something about it."

Mr Shmigel also said that while Lifeline will receive more than a million calls to its 13 11 14 crisis line this year, the national charity does not have the resources to answer every call immediately.

"We are disappointed and even heartbroken when someone has to wait for extended periods as a result of our lack of resources, but my message to those people is to please hang on the line or try calling again later – you will get through," he said.

The bureau said Australia's suicide rate rose to 12 per 100,000 people in 2014 – the highest level since 2001, when it reached 12.6 per 100,000.

The suicide rate among those aged 55 to 64 surged 54 per cent in the 10 years to 2014, to 15.1 per 100,000.

The rate of suicide by women aged 15-24 jumped 50 per cent during the same period, compared with a 2 per cent increase for men. However, men made up three-quarters of the 362 suicides in the age group in 2014.

You can put your name on the petition here.