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First Senate Inquiry into Suicide in Australia


Suicide in Australia is a significant community health issue and its incidence is alarming: in 2007, 1,880 people took their own life and a national survey in the same year found that some 500,000 people will make a suicide attempt at some time during their lifetime. Lifeline has reported that suicide is the number one cause of death in males aged 15 to 44 years. Suicide rates of Indigenous youth and in rural communities remain high.

The Australian Senate has referred to the Community Affairs References Committee an inquiry into suicide in Australia.

Suicide has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities. There is a huge cost in terms of grief and trauma as well as substantial financial cost to the Australian community. The Committee will conduct a wide-ranging inquiry and investigate issues including the personal, social and financial costs of suicide in Australia, the accuracy of suicide reporting, the role of support agencies and public awareness programs and the effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

The impact of suicide on the Australian community including high risk groups such as Indigenous youth and rural communities, with particular reference to:

  1. the personal, social and financial costs of suicide in Australia;
  2. the accuracy of suicide reporting in Australia, factors that may impede accurate identification and recording of possible suicides (and the consequences of any under-reporting on understanding risk factors and providing services to those at risk);
  3. the appropriate role and effectiveness of agencies, such as police, emergency departments, law enforcement and general health services in assisting people at risk of suicide;
  4. the effectiveness, to date, of public awareness programs and their relative success in providing information, encouraging help-seeking and enhancing public discussion of suicide;
  5. the efficacy of suicide prevention training and support for front-line health and community workers providing services to people at risk;
  6. the role of targeted programs and services that address the particular circumstances of high-risk groups;
  7. the adequacy of the current program of research into suicide and suicide prevention, and the manner in which findings are disseminated to practitioners and incorporated into government policy; and
  8. the effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy in achieving its aims and objectives, and any barriers to its progress

The Committee invites submissions from government, relevant organisations and individuals addressing the Committee's terms of reference. To get involved, please visit the committee website here.

Submissions are due by 20 November 2009.

The committee will report on the inquiry by the last sitting day in April 2010.

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