Today’s suicide prevention summit in Canberra represents a real opportunity for Australia to significantly improve the way it tackles suicide and self-harm.
Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, called for the summit after the release of figures showing that 3128 people took their own lives in 2017, a rise of 9.1 per cent from 2016.
Minister Hunt asked the National Mental Health Commission to convene today’s summit, which will be hosted by Minister Hunt and chaired by National Mental Health Commission chair Lucy Brogden.
Ms Brogden said the summit would bring together leaders from the mental health and suicide prevention sector, representatives from consumer, carer and Indigenous groups, peak bodies and governments from across Australia, to reach a consensus on action that needs to be taken to reduce suicide.
“This summit is a great opportunity to get all of the best minds together in one room to talk about how we can tackle the problem of suicide,” she said.
“Sadly, when we talk about suicide rates we’re talking about people – people with families, friends and communities around them who are also greatly impacted.
“We will need a whole-of-government, and whole-of-sector approach to tackle this problem, so this summit is a great step in the right direction.”
Ms Brogden said Australia had a strong track record of developing innovative approaches to tackling suicide and self-harm.
“What has been lacking thus far, is a broad consensus from the mental health and suicide prevention sector about where the government should be focussing its efforts and investments,” she said.
“Today’s summit will go a long way towards uniting the sector behind a set of agreed principles and actions.”
The Commission reports annually on the suicide prevention system, through the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (Fifth Plan).
The summit will consider the progress on suicide prevention under the Fifth Plan, and will address issues that have been raised around investment and data.