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    John Mendoza

    Some what predictable given their roles, the authors focus on just more of the same approaches we have had for decades. While education and training have an important role to play for those who will regularly encounter a person with imminent risk of suicide, the evidence for training those in suicide intervention who will infrequently or rarely encounter that situation is very thin. Even training GPs is not that good an investment.
    Secondly, the authors ignore what is driving Australia’s suicide rates – the rates (up 13%) and numbers (up 33% in a decade) have increased significantly now while there has been feverish activity that they point to. Hope is not a strategy – hoping that what we are doing will make a difference is not a strategy. Australia’s suicide and self-harm data was going up long before the pandemic, bushfires and even the drought were biting hard. The fact is, we have a growing gap between those in the lowest income and wealth gaps (the bottom 40%) and those in the top 20%. You are 250% more likely to die by suicide if you are in a household,d in the lower quintiles. Poorer educational opportunity, higher housing costs, poor infrastructure and access to basic services – these are the factors driving despair and the higher and higher numbers of people presenting in crisis to EDs, higher death rates, self-harm, imprisonment, family violence, childhood adversity and homelessness. More helplines, more half day training programs focussed on imminent risk, more medicare subsided psychology sessions with high out-of-pocket costs will make diddly-squat difference.
    Until the organisations taking vast amounts of funds every year from the Federal Government say ‘game is up’ let’s get serious about the real issues driving suicide, then we will continue to see the tragedy continue.


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