Suicide Prevention Australia has released findings from its third annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention survey. This year’s survey gathered information from 283 respondents from the suicide prevention sector about key issues for the sector and the community to inform Suicide Prevention Australia’s National Policy Platform and advocacy work.
The social determinants of health and wellbeing are seen as important factors influencing suicide rates in the community. When asked what they think will pose the most significant risk to suicide rates over the next 12 months, cost of living and personal debt was indicated by 74% of sector respondents, much higher than the 57% of respondents who selected this response last year. Social isolation and loneliness (73%) and housing access and affordability (72%) were also rated highly.
Increased demand for services in the past 12 months was noted by 88% of respondents, which is the highest proportion since the survey began. Additional funding is needed to meet this increased demand, however reliance on grants and delays in government funds were reported as key challenges to the sectors’ work.
A majority (78%) of respondents indicated priority populations at risk of suicide were not appropriately funded, resourced or responded to. The population groups seen as most needing additional support were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (selected by 78% of respondents), survivors of suicide attempts (70%), and people living with a mental illness (68%).
Consistent with previous years, respondents overwhelmingly support a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention (96%) to address the social determinants of health that contribute to the risk of suicide. Three out of four respondents either agreed or strongly agreed to the need for a national Suicide Prevention Act.
Integrating lived experience into all aspects of suicide prevention is understood as best practice, however survey respondents noted that more is required to support the lived experience workforce, with 80% believing the peer workforce is inadequately funded.
The proportion of respondents who reported that they have access to sufficient data for their work was 52%, which is a marked improvement from the 23% reported in 2021.
Nieves Murray, Chief Executive Officer at Suicide Prevention Australia noted in the report, “We can see in this year’s data that our sector remains busier than ever as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple natural disasters and increased cost of living pressures. It’s a sector that’s diverse, changing and collaborative.”
“A whole-of-government approach, lived experience, data and evidence, workforce, sector and community capacity [are] priorities we will continue to champion every day.”
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