‘Reach out’ to those in distress, rural residents urged

Rural residents are being asked to reach out to people who are “isolated and in distress” as the latest data on suicide in Australia is released.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found 880 people in NSW died by suicide in 2017, an increase of 9.3 per cent on the previous year.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey said this was an increase of 75 deaths in a year, and the highest in NSW since 2008.

Behind each statistic is a person, with a family, friends, colleagues and communities affected by their loss, she said.

“These figures starkly underscore the distress communities are feeling. Communities have told us they want to contribute to local solutions to improve their well-being, with the support of safe and accessible services,” Ms Lourey said.

The NSW Mental Health Commission is concerned about particular groups in the community who experience suicide at higher rates than the general population. These include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning people; Aboriginal people; young people; and those living in rural and remote communities in NSW. 

“A strong mental health and social support system is essential to support people at times of crisis, but we know that health professionals alone cannot prevent suicide. It requires a whole of community effort to support each other, and especially those among us in distress,” Ms Lourey said.

If you need support, call the NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511, Lifeline: 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467, or Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800