Australia "missing opportunities" to prevent suicides: expert

CANBERRA, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Leading mental health experts warned that Australia is “missing opportunities” to prevent suicides in the midst of a suicide crisis.

Nicholas Procter, the head of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Group at the University of South Australia (UniSA), recently called for Australia to take a more “compassionate” approach to mental illness.

“Suicide does not discriminate,” said Procter, who is the representative on the National Suicide Prevention Taskforce charged with developing a national suicide prevention plan in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to News Corp Australia on Tuesday.

“No two people at risk of suicide present with the same developmental histories, life trajectories, risk factors, or current situational stressors,” said Procter, adding that compassionate and individualistic approaches are needed to drive down the nation’s suicide rate.

“We are missing opportunities to prevent people dying by suicide or attempting to take their own lives every day because we don’t intervene early enough. This needs to change.”

According to data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in October, 3,318 Australians took their own lives in 2019 — the equivalent of nine every day.

Nieves Murray, Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, said in the media release recently that the data showed “we are not seeing a spike in suicide rates in 2020” during the pandemic but warned that “we can’t underestimate the impact that the events of COVID-19 is having today and into the future.”

“It’s heartbreaking to know that over 3,000 people died by suicide last year,” she said.

“The next months and years will be challenging and that’s why we will work closely with the government and our members to ensure we continue to strengthen the suicide prevention and mental health systems.”

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