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Turning Points: Imagine a world without suicide

Turning Points: Imagine a world without suicide

Suicide prevention is complex and it needs to be addressed as a whole-of-government issue, because it’s more than a health issue. Drawing on international evidence, a fragmented and mental illness-specific approach alone is shown not to work. An integrated approach to suicide prevention encompassing mental health, social, economic and community factors is required.

Andrew Dempster

Director, Mental Health Advisory Lead

KPMG Australia


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The Government’s ‘towards zero’ ambition for suicide rates in Australia, and the Mental Health Royal Commission in Victoria mark a watershed moment for prioritising suicide prevention in Australia’s long-term national health plan.

As we enter the next decade, trends indicate that there are potential new risks for suicide that must be addressed.

Suicide Prevention Australia engaged KPMG pro bono to assist in the development of this paper which examines the emerging trends in housing, finance, employment and relationships that are likely to have an effect on Australians, and explore opportunities for realising a world without suicide.

“It is a national tragedy that we lose so many people to suicide. We can all make a difference in the lives of those who might be struggling by having regular, meaningful conversations about life's ups and downs. Working together to prevent suicide, raise awareness and encourage conversations is important.”

Nieves Murray
CEO – Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA)

Risk factors

Risk factors are issues in a person’s life that increase the likelihood of them having suicidal thoughts or behaviours. It is important to note that risk factors are not definitive – an individual living with many of these risk factors may never think of, or attempt suicide.  However, the more risk factors one is exposed to, the higher the suicide risk, and factors associated with suicide can differ depending on a person’s age and sex.

Three risks addressed in this first edition focus on:

  • housing and finance trends – Australian households are becoming ‘over-indebted’
  • employment trends – the emergence of the ‘gig’ economy
  • relationships and household structures – an increase in social isolation.

Future directions

The trends identified in this paper highlight a need to understand what opportunities there are to intervene earlier and better support people at risk of suicide outside of traditional service environments. Indicative data shows that these key time periods might be in the immediate 6 months following job or relationship loss.

Further research is needed to understand what type of supports have the greatest impact, with the ultimate objective being a world without suicide.

Turning Points: Imagine a world without suicide was launched on 10 September 2019 at Parliament House in Canberra with key stakeholders from across the sector, and the Prime Minister.

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