Figures recently released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, as part of the Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), indicated the need for increased research in youth suicide including a focus on help-seeking and supports for young people to reduce suicide.
The LSAC is a nationally representative cohort study that has followed over 10,000 children since birth (B cohort) and age four to five (K cohort) since 2004. Every two years, these children and their parents answer questions relating to their health and wellbeing, relationships and school experiences.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young Australians, and a national public health priority. Data released in 2020 from LSAC K cohort at ages 14–15 and 16–17 were used to highlight patterns of suicidality.
The data shows a high number of young people aged between 14 and 17 have thought about taking their own life, planned suicide or made a suicide attempt in the previous 12 months. Main findings from the recent data are outlined below.
Approximately 17% of young people had thought about taking their own life, 14% had planned a suicide, and around 10% had made a suicide attempt between the ages of 14 and 17. For those who had made an attempt, around two-thirds made one attempt (~65%) and one-third made two or more attempts over the two-year study period.
Friends and parents were the most common sources of help for emotional problems among young people who had attempted suicide. Almost three-quarters reported seeking help from friends (74%) and nearly half from parents (49%). A small proportion reported seeking professional/specialised help (10% from a GP, 8% from a phone helpline).
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