Suicide reporting welcomed
LIFELINE’S Lismore counselling centre manager Niall Mulligan has welcomed new guidelines encouraging journalists to report suicide more widely.
“Lifeline was part of the discussion group that came up with the guidelines and we just think that an open, informed debate about suicide and its impact on the community has got to be a good thing,” he said.
The Australian Press Council this week issued new guidelines encouraging wider reporting on the issue – with some caveats – in the hope that it could lead to a greater understanding in the wider community.
Australian media have traditionally been reluctant to report suicides, despite the fact that each day about six Australians take their own lives.
The news industry has collectively been reluctant to publicise specific cases for fear that this could inspire others to take similar action.
Lifeline operates at the coalface of theissue and plays a crucial role in suicide prevention as it is often the last resort for distressed callers.
Trying to establish the extent of suicide-related deaths can also be difficult for a host of reasons, though it is generally accepted the rates are higher than the official statistics reveal.
Lismore’s Lifeline call centre operates daily with about 70 volunteers
“In the past two years we’ve also trained about 170 people in the skills that will allow them to recognise people at risk of suicide and intervene in a way that will increase that person’s safety and link them to further help,” Mr Mulligan said.
Suicide – the facts
1.5% (2133) of all deaths registered in 2009 were attributed to suicide.
77% were men (1633), and 23% (499) were female.
Australia’s suicide rate has fallen by 22% since 2000
Male deaths fell by 24% and female deaths fell by 13%
The highest suicide death rate for men was observed in the 85 plus age group (28.2 per 100,000)
The lowest was in the 15-19 years age group (9.3 per 100,000).
More die from suicide than transport related deaths.
Source: ABS 2009