Hello, boys and girls. Jessica Norris here. Live and in stereo. No return engagements. No encore. And this time, absolutely no requests. I hope you’re ready, because i’m about to tell you the story of Suicide in Australia. More specifically, why suicide rates are increasing. And if you’re reading this you’re probably in one of the age groups most at risk.


In case you haven’t guessed it, the above is an adaptation of the opening lines of the TV show “13 Reasons Why”. A show which explores teen suicide in a way which has caused much controversy. Controversy aside however, the show does aim to raise awareness of suicide and its effect on not only the victim but the people around them. It has started a conversation amongst people of all ages about suicide and this is a conversation I wish to continue.

Suicide rates in Australia are have increased greatly over the past 10 years and this trend is continuing. So why should you as a young person worry? Well, In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death of children between 5 and 17 years of age. [1]

Click the play button on the Interactive Graph below to see how suicide rates among each age group have changed from 2006 to 2015 [1]


Number of Suicided Related Deaths in Australia (2006 - 2015)

So why are these increases happening?

There are a number of different factors. However there are 3 (not 13) current trends that have been discussed as having a direct correlation with suicide rates. These three reasons are; an increase in social media use, an increase in anxiety and depression and the changing portrayal of suicide in the media. So how do these affect suicide rates? Let’s look at each trend in detail…


Social Media

The introduction and increase in use of Social media is believed to have increased suicide rates because it has enabled the practice of Cyberbullying or cyber harassment to flourish. Cyberbullying can lead to depression and suicidal ideation. One survey with approximately 2000 high school children found that victims of cyberbullying were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who were not [2]. Also a great deal of information on suicide is available on the Internet and via social media. A web search of 12 suicide-associated terms (e.g., suicide, suicide methods, how to kill yourself, and best suicide methods) shows out of 240 different sites, approximately half were pro-suicide and provided factual information about suicide. [3]

Horrifically, several suicides have been live streamed on Social media sites such as Facebook creating a new medium for suicide notes. There is a risk that some people who see suicide are more likely to consider suicide [4].

The visualiation below shows the increase in social media usage from 2012 - 2016 [9].







Mental and Behavioural Conditions

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2014-15 there were 4.0 million Australians or just under 1 in 5, who reported having a mental or behavioural condition.It is clear that people with mental health conditions and/or anxiety are more likely to think about suicide [5] . The suicide rate among people with a mental illness is at least seven times higher than the general population. [6]

The visualization below shows the proportion of the Australia population whom have experienced mental and behavioural problems as demonstrated in the tri-annual National Health Survey [10] .


Proportion of the Australia population whom have experienced mental and behavioural problems 2001 - 2015

( Indicated in red )














Suicide in the media

It has been proven that there is a relationship between media reporting of suicide deaths and increases in completed and attempted suicide rates. For example, a major 1995 study of coverage in Australian newspapers found that rates of male suicide increased following reports of suicide, with actual male suicides peaking on the third day after a suicide story first appeared.[7]

With greater access to the media through many different mediums, the role suicide reporting in the media plays in determining suicide rates is becoming increasingly significant.

Conclusion

Despite it’s large Suicide Rates, Australia only has the 87th highest suicide rate the world [8]. It is important that young people like you are made aware about just how common suicide is so that we can help to reduce it’s incidence. It can often be as simple as asking someone how they are. So maybe try talking to someone you normally wouldn’t and ask how they are going. It is important to care for one another and remember that people don’t necessarily have to look sad to be feeling depressed.

If you or anyone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts please contact Lifeline immediately on 13 11 14.