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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 8 Hansard (12 August) . .

Page.. 2322..


Suicide reduction target

Paper and statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health, Minister for Higher Education and Minister for Regional Development): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Suicide Reduction Target—ACT Deaths due to suicide and information about available front line suicide prevention and postvention services and support—Report, dated August 2014, pursuant to the resolution of the Assembly of 28 March 2012.

I ask leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: I make the following statement on deaths due to suicide in the ACT and present information about suicide prevention services and support available in the ACT. The Seventh Legislative Assembly passed a motion calling on the Minister for Health to:

... consult the Ministerial Advisory Council on Mental Health and other relevant stakeholders about what ACT suicide reduction target is appropriate for 2020 and outline that target to the Assembly by the end of 2012;

and make a statement to the Assembly biannually until the end of 2020 on ACT figures on suicide progress against the target, and information about available services and support.

I have consulted with the Ministerial Advisory Council on Mental Health on two occasions and sought information from local and national clinicians and researchers working in the field of suicide prevention. Suicide and suicide prevention is a very complex issue. Many of the factors that affect suicide rates are beyond the influence of the health portfolio. A sense of connection and belonging within the community and access to secure employment, housing and appropriate education enhances mental health and wellbeing, while bullying, drug and alcohol use and stress about changes in the cost of living increase individual stress and can affect an individual's risk of suicide. When it comes to setting a suicide reduction target, all of these factors have to be taken into consideration.

I would like to be able to set a zero suicide reduction target, but sadly, this is neither realistic nor attainable. The Ministerial Advisory Council on Mental Health supports setting an across-the-board aspirational target for a reduction in the rate of suicides, as a percentage over a reasonable time period—that is, to at least 2020. The council believes setting a reduction target would focus policy and service delivery attention more effectively and that a target would be part of a broader community awareness-raising exercise given the hidden nature of suicide and the importance of help-seeking behaviour.


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