Back to top

Leading reform 2018 presentation :: Suicide: Are we asking the right questions, Prof David Crompton

Presentation by Professor David Crompton of the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention at the Leading Reform Summit in November 2018.

In 2013, 2522 people died by suicide in Australia, a rate of approximately 11 suicides per 100,000 people. An estimated 65,000 made an attempt at suicide. These figures have altered little over the last decade or more.

These figures exceed those in what we might perceive as similar countries — Canada, UK, Italy, Greece and New Zealand — and even in countries that we differ from in a cultural and/or economic perspective, such as South Africa, Costa Rica, Peru and Colombia.

In reviews and analyses undertaken to find out why someone died by suicide, and what went wrong, it was seldom identified as a public health issue and not just a problem for mental health or addiction services.

Evidence is growing in relation to the effectiveness of a number of suicide prevention interventions, but it cannot be a stand-alone process. There is a requirement for public health interventions, individual and family interventions, that occur across broader and local communities.

Even if all this could be implemented, will it reduce our suicide rate? Is there a more fundamental issue that is about us as a people, and if so, can we introduce a disruptor that will make a significant change, and lead to a rate that is comparable to the Dominican Republic, Italy or Greece?