No spike in 2020 despite coronavirus, bushfires9th November 2020
The numbers equate to more than 17 suicide deaths ever week.
“Every single death from suicide is an absolute tragedy, what these number clearly demonstrate is that we have not had a surge, that we are holding the line with those numbers,” Ms Taylor said.
“What that tells us is that in a year that has thrown every single challenge at us in terms of bushfire, in terms of drought, and in terms of COVID-19 is that our services on the ground have demonstrated that they are doing a really good job,” Ms Taylor said.
“Do they need to come down? Absolutely,” Ms Taylor said, She acknowledged that people in the community were dealing with increasing levels of anxiety.
Mental health experts have also repeatedly warned of the long tail of mental health problems triggered by the bushfires and droughts, as well as the damaging side effects of policies designed to protect the community from the COVID-19 virus, including job losses, financial uncertainty and social isolation.
“We need to have a web of services to provide to people who are not having a good day… an easy time with their mental illness,” Ms Taylor said, urging anyone who needed support to seek help.
The new monitoring system is designed to enable the government to make critical decisions in real-time about the local services and health responses in communities where there were indications of higher suicide risk instead of reacting to year-old data.
“This system will allow us to target and pivot services where they’re needed,” Ms Taylor said.
The data will be updated monthly and is part of the NSW Government $87 million Towards Zero Suicides initiative to reduce the incidence and impact of suicide across the state.
NSW Coroner, Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan said data was critical, but “behind every data-point is a person who is loved, and enduring loss for those left behind.”
“It is our hope that this monitoring system will not only enhance existing efforts but allow us to learn from these tragic deaths and translate those [lessons] into future action to prevent further loss of life,” she said.
Magistrate Sullivan said suicides accounted for 10 per cent of all deaths referred to the coroner, and are often considered the most preventative deaths.
Real-time monitoring was the first step towards developing a suicide review process.
Reforming the piecemeal collection and management of suicide data was the result of significant collaboration between, NSW Health, the Department of Communities and Justice the State Coroner and NSW Police.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the system was “a potential game-changer for suicide prevention in NSW” that connected the silos of all services that respond to suicides.
“What we have been lacking is real-time data at our fingers tips so we know immediately what trends are occurring in NSW communities,” Mr Speakman said, to feed to frontline services while ensuring the security and accuracy of the sensitive information.
The next stage will be to develop an enhanced data set, which will include information about the social, economic and other pressures a person may have experienced, as well as any previous contact with health services.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
Kate Aubusson is Health Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.