Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


End Youth Suicide Week

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (15:34): I rise today to recognise End Youth Suicide Week, which was held between 13 and 17 February. Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death amongst Australians aged between 15 and 24. In 2021, 322 Australian young people took their own lives, with 71 per cent of the deaths being adolescents aged between 15 and 17. Deaths by suicide represented 34 per cent of all deaths in young people aged 15 to 17 and 35 per cent of all deaths in those aged 18 to 24. This is up from 17 per cent and 24 per cent respectively of all deaths in these age groups in 2001.

In order to combat this alarming statistic it is essential to create support systems for young people. The Youth Insearch Foundation's End Youth Suicide Week campaign strives to create greater awareness about the issue of suicide amongst young people and to help build greater resilience and coping skills to prevent youth suicide. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that young people access resources they require to help them manage their mental health needs. The campaign encourages our community and young people to defy the stigma associated with mental health and to openly talk about suicide with their friends, families and communities.

Youth Insearch are collaborating with a broad range of organisations for their campaign, including health providers, schools, community groups and governments across Australia. The Youth Insearch Impact Report 2021-22 shows that of the people they have supported 57 per cent were female, 35 per cent were male, 27 per cent were Indigenous and 14 per cent had a disability or impairment. The report shows that two out of three participants of Youth Insearch programs planned to complete suicide in the past and half of those had attempted suicide, with one in five stating on intake that they felt it was likely they would complete suicide in the future.

Youth Insearch evaluations found that 91 per cent of participants who felt suicidal prior to attending the program no longer felt suicidal, and 89 per cent of participants who had attempted suicide previously did not attempt suicide after attending the program. Overall, Youth Insearch has helped over 32,000 youth.

Supporting End Youth Suicide Week has played a role in the positive outcomes of the participants that Youth Insearch helps and can also have a wider positive impact in the community. It is important we have these conversations to break down barriers and stigmas surrounding mental health. It is important we continue to normalise that it is okay to not be okay, to normalise reaching out for help and having these difficult conversations, to remind people that whilst they might feel isolated when they feel this way they are not alone.

I stand in this chamber in an attempt to break down these barriers and continue to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues, particularly within our youth. Today, I proudly wear my End Youth Suicide Week badge in our chamber and I speak on this very important issue.