MORE Australians took their own lives in 2017 than the year before, with almost a third of those who died by suicide experiencing an alcohol or drug use disorder at the time, new data has revealed.
There was 3128 deaths by suicide across the nation last year, compared to 2866 in 2016, the data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows.
The 9.1 per cent increase in deaths by suicide has angered suicide prevention groups, with Lifeline chairman John Brogden saying it is an “outrage” and calling for federal government action.
“Suicide in Australia is increasing at the same time as deaths from most physical illnesses are decreasing,” Mr Brogden said.
The rate of suicide deaths per 100,000 people was 12.7 in 2017, compared to 11.8 in 2016. The 2017 rate is on par with 2015 as the highest preliminary rate recorded in the past decade.
The figures show the increase in suicide deaths between 2016 and 2017 was not spread evenly across the nation, with Queensland recording the steepest rise, at 804 deaths by suicide in 2017, compared to 674 the year before. New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory recorded the next most notable increases, and the number was marginally lower in Victoria and South Australia.
The ABS has also shed light this year, for the first time, on health conditions people were experiencing at the time of their death by suicide. Mood disorders, which include depression, were recorded as being experienced by 43 per cent of those who died, while anxiety or stress-related disorders were being experienced by 17.5 per cent.
Drug and alcohol use disorders were being experienced by 29.5 per cent of people.
The suicide rate continued to be higher among men than women in 2017, and among Indigenous Australians compared with the broader population.
The data comes as the federal government has given $36 million to organisations trying to curb the number of Australians taking their own lives.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says suicide remained a "national tragedy".
“One life lost to suicide is one too many,” he said.
Mr Brogden called on the government to set a national target to achieve 25 per cent suicide reduction over five years.
“This is an outrage,” he said. “Behind every number released today is a person who is cared for and loved, with family and friends left devastated by their loss.”
Black Dog Institute Professor Helen Christensen said the 9.1 per cent increase was “extremely upsetting” and each death was a “potentially preventable tragedy”.
”The increase in suicide deaths is a trend that has been continuing over the last decade, and is an incentive to try even harder,” she said. “What we do has to be both evidence-based and at scale – reaching every community across the country, no matter how remote. Suicide affects everyone, and suicide prevention is everybody’s business.”
- For crisis help contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 22 4636