NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #suicideprevention : #ABS Causes of death report released

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” In any other country, in any other part of the world these statistics would be a cause of national shame and soul searching,

“And quite frankly, if these numbers applied to any group of non-indigenous kids in Sydney or Melbourne, there would be pages of newspaper print and no amount of money, resources or political effort spared to address the issue.

It’s time there was a full Royal Commission into failings in the system that are driving so many people in our communities to such levels of despair that suicide is the only answer; and into what systemic changes we need to put in place to reverse such appalling statistics.”

Matthew Cooke NACCHO Chair Previous Press Release

” Youth suicide is a damning portrayal of the increasing sense of hopelessness – nearly 1 in 3 of the nation’s child suicides are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children despite where overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 1 in 17 of the Australian suicide toll.

The sense of hopelessness for a significant proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a national disgrace, an abomination.”

Gerry Georgatos, Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights

Download the Data here

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“We know support for people at risk of suicide is improved when evidence based, carefully planned and personalised approaches are delivered in local communities, timely follow up of people who have self harmed or attempted suicide is also vital.

“Importantly too, services need to be able to readily adapt to reduce suicide amongst the highest risk groups, including people living in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

Suicide, according to 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, has continued on an upward trend and is at the highest rate in ten years.”

Co chair Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention
Sharon Jones from Relationships Australia Tasmania
” The release of statistics showing suicide is again the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44 is a stark reminder of the need for a coordinated effort to reduced suicide in our communities. According to the ABS, 3,027 Australians died by suicide in 2015 – a 5.4 per cent increase from the previous year.
 
This is 3,027 too many.
 
Sadly, suicide continues to disproportionately impact indigenous communities, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people twice more likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the 15-17 age-group had a suicide rate more than five times higher than their non-Indigenous peers. This is heartbreaking.”
Catherine King MP Opposition Health spokesperson
LEADING CAUSES OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DEATH

         AUSTRALIA’S LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH, 2015

Measures of mortality relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are key inputs into the Closing the Gap strategy, led by the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG). This is a government partnership where work is undertaken with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. Mortality data enables measurement of progress towards key Closing the Gap targets.

Analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths included in this section refers only to those that occurred in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are excluded in line with national reporting guidelines (for information on issues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification, see Explanatory Notes 56-66).

In 2015, the standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was almost double that of non-Indigenous Australians (999.9 compared with 578.8 deaths per 100,000 people respectively). There were also significant differences in the leading causes of death. Causes including Intentional self-harm (X60-X84), Cirrhosis and other liver diseases (K70-K76) and Land transport accidents (V01-V89) feature prominently among leading causes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths. Diabetes is the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but is ranked sixth for all Australians. In 2015 diabetes deaths occurred among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a rate 4.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians.

Key preliminary suicide data include:

  • In 2015, preliminary data showed 3,027 total suicide deaths (age-specific rate of 12.7 per 100,000); 2,292 males (19.4 per 100,000) and 735 females (6.2 per 100,000). There were 2,864 deaths in 2014 (12.2 per 100,000)
  • The highest age-specific suicide rate for males was observed in the 85+ age-group (39.3 per 100,000) with 68 deaths
  • However, there were 1,160 suicide deaths in males aged 30-54, with ages 40-54 all recording an age-specific rate of 30.9 per 100,000 – compared to the overall male rate of 19.4 per 100,000
  • The lowest age-specific suicide rate for males was in the 0-14 age-group 6 deaths (0.3 per 100,000) and the 15-19 age-group 89 deaths (11.8 per 100,000)
  • The highest age-specific suicide rate for females was observed in the 45-49 age-group (82 deaths; 10.4 per 100,000). The lowest age-specific suicide rate for females was observed in the 0-14 age-group with 8 deaths (0.4 per 100,000), followed by the 65-69, 60-64 and 75-79 age-groups (4.5, 5.4 and 5.4 per 100,000 respectively). The 15-19 female age-group rate rose from 5.3 per 100,000 in 2014 (38 deaths) to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2015 (56 deaths)
  • Consistently over the past 10 years, the number of suicide deaths has been approximately three times higher in the male population, than in the female. In 2015, 75.6% of suicide deaths were male
  • Of all deaths in 2015, 1.9% was attributed to suicide. The proportion of total deaths attributed to suicide, was higher in males (2.8%) than females (0.9%).

New suicide prevention advisory group

28 September 2016

This October sees the second meeting of the new Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention.

Established in response to a request in December 2015 by federal Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, the group provides advice, expertise and strategic support for suicide prevention policy across Australia by identifying priorities and promoting action.

In keeping with the National Mental Health Commission’s commitment to the ideal of nothing about us without us, membership includes people with a lived experience of mental ill health.

The nationally representative group is co chaired by Sharon Jones from Relationships Australia Tasmania and Lucy Brogden, commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission.

“We know support for people at risk of suicide is improved when evidence based, carefully planned and personalised approaches are delivered in local communities,” Sharon Jones said.

“Timely follow up of people who have self harmed or attempted suicide is also vital.

“Importantly too, services need to be able to readily adapt to reduce suicide amongst the highest risk groups, including people living in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

Suicide, according to 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, has continued on an upward trend and is at the highest rate in ten years. It was the leading cause of death in people aged 1534 years and the suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is double that of the nonindigenous population.

Mrs Brogden said: “The Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention is committed to arresting this trend. Our mission is to provide evidence based advice on suicide and self harm issues to the government and community.

“The group has a strategic role to monitor and evaluate the outcome of the Commonwealth’s significant investment in the 12 suicide prevention trial sites across Australia.

“As appropriate, the advisory group will assist primary health networks, PHNs, as they develop their own systematic approaches to community based suicide prevention.

“We believe a coordinated approach across sectors including health, community services, housing, employment and education is needed to create a national infrastructure and leadership on suicide prevention to government and the community.

“We understand that communities have an important role to play in suicide prevention. Working with the ABS and other interested groups who collect and analyse data is a critical to strong and effective suicide prevention strategies,” she said.

The Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention held its inaugural meeting in May 2016.

The Australian suicide toll will increase each year for many years to come

Gerry Georgatos, Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights
During the last five years I have accurately estimated the annual suicide toll and last year predicted that the 2015 toll would exceed 3,000 suicides. It will be higher for 2016.
 
I accurately estimated the Aboriginal and Torres Islander suicide toll for each of the last five years and again it will be higher for 2016.
 
There is no authentic response to the suicides crises – it is long overdue that a Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides is established. Similarly, a central body should be established to authenticate the ways forward, an Australian Commission into Suicide Prevention and Wellbeing.
It is important to establish such bodies if what we know works is to be further invested in, if what does not work is ceased, if what makes things worse is put to an end, if the inauthentic and carpetbaggers are weeded out, if disaggregation into high risk groups is identified and the tailor made sponsored.  
 
The conversations that Australia should be having are not being sponsored.
 
Australia’s official suicide toll reached 3,027 – a harrowing toll, more than double the combined total of Australian military deaths, homicides and the road toll. But the grim reality is that thousands more Australians suicided but because of under-reporting issues have not been classified as suicides. The accumulation of stressors is increasing and an increasing sense of hopelessness is debilitating more Australians to despair.
Similarly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders suicides will continue to increase at rates that should have been unimaginable.
 
However migrants are lost in translation, they account for more than one in four of the Australian suicide toll and we have to disaggregate to the high risk population groups so we leave no-one behind.
 
Generalised counselling is not the way forward and indeed tailor made counselling, education and psychosocial support are needed. The medicating of people is at record levels but more people than ever are victim to disordered thinking, high end depressions, a constancy of traumas, victim to aggressive complex traumas and more Australians than ever before attempting suicide.
 
Youth suicide is a damning portrayal of the increasing sense of hopelessness – nearly 1 in 3 of the nation’s child suicides are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children despite where overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 1 in 17 of the Australian suicide toll. The sense of hopelessness for a significant proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a national disgrace, an abomination.
 
The answers do not rest with more medications or with a focus on ‘resilience’. ‘Resilience’ needs to be coupled with hope. Resilience in effect asks people to adjust their behaviour but how far and for how long without any hope on the horizon? The answers are found in improving the lot of others, with improving wellbeing, with the psychosocial uplift into hope, in an education that provides the dawn of new meanings and understandings, with understanding that traumas as various, unique, and with disaggregating to the high risk population groups but also to the high risk categorical groups, which include in order of highest risk; individuals who as children were removed from their biological families, the houseless/homeless, unaddressed childhood trauma, former inmates, victims of sexual abuse.

Peak body calls for Australia to match suicide prevention efforts and investment to magnitude of public health problem

 Suicide is again the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44, demonstrating the need for greater national effort on suicide prevention. The report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that 3,027 Australians died by suicide in 2015. This is an 5.4% increase from the previously reported 2014 figure of 2,864.

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) Chief Executive Sue Murray says:

“First and foremost I acknowledge the human lives lost by suicide and the pain suicide brings to our lives. Recent research tells us that hundreds of Australians are impacted by each suicide death. Today’s data release is a heartbreaking reminder of why Australia must match its prevention efforts and investment to the magnitude of the public health problem we face.”

“We are acutely aware that there is a continuing trend of increasing suicide rates among women, particularly young women, and a concerning shift to more violent means. Significant reforms are underway to improve regional responses to suicide.

We will maintain vigilance and work closely with key partners including Federal and State/Territory governments, the National Mental Health Commission and the Primary Health Networks to ensure resources are allocated where and when they are needed.”

National Coalition for Suicide Prevention Chairman Mathew Tukaki agrees and calls for focus in these unsettling times, “This year we have seen unprecedented bipartisan support for major mental health and suicide prevention reforms. The information released today tells us that our exposure to and the impact of suicide is on the rise.

We must focus on implementing the promised reforms, building workforce capacity and prioritising community driven suicide prevention supported by national leadership. We must hold our focus in order to make the deep systemic and social changes needed.”

The release of 2015 data has occurred much earlier than the usual March release.

The ABS has improved internal processes to bring the release forward and feel confident that they are able to maintain the high quality of the data while providing earlier access to this important public health information.

Key national 24/7 crisis support services include:

Key national youth support services include:

 

For further information or advice, please visit the Mindframe website or contact:

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