UP IN THE AIR: Health Minister Sussan Ley hasn’t confirmed federal funding for suicide support programs beyond June.
UP IN THE AIR: Health Minister Sussan Ley hasn’t confirmed federal funding for suicide support programs beyond June.

98 suicides in Bundaberg region in four years

ALMOST 100 Bundaberg residents took their own lives in just four years.

Special APN research reveals there were 98 suicide and self-harm-related deaths in the region during 2009 to 2012.

The shocking University of Adelaide figure comes on the back of Tuesday's Australian Bureau of Statistics Causes of Death report, which revealed suicide was the leading cause of preventable mortality for Australians aged 15 to 44 years.

The ABS said suicide deaths increased 8% over five years.

Suicide costs Australia about $1.7 billion a year.

This figure, contained in a Menslink-commissioned 2013 KPMG report, factored in productivity loss relating to premature mortality, the loss of healthy life years to the country and mental health services costs.

Experts said uncertainty about government funding and a lack of community support services were contributing to the epidemic.

Suicide Prevention Australia chief Sue Murray said the problem could get worse when federal funding for the sector ended in June.

"The existing (funding) uncertainty is hindering the ability of the sector to provide support to those touched by suicide," she said.

"Vulnerable individuals are at risk of losing their support networks and access to quality services."

Central Queensland University mental health academic Dr Louise Byrne said there were not enough support services for people on the edge.

"We have twice as many people with significant mental health challenges - people who may be at risk of feeling that they want to commit suicide - but we have half as many services," the Approach in Mental Health co-ordinator said.

"The ability to access timely and appropriate services is greatly diminished.

"Even in metropolitan centres it's often a battle for people when they are feeling acutely unwell to get access to specialist services but then once you take to regional and rural areas it's exacerbated."

Health Minister Sussan Ley would not confirm continuing federal funding for suicide support programs beyond June.

"Any suicide is one too many and it is devastating for families and communities," Ms Ley said.

"I am committed to working with mental health professionals and communities to reduce the tragic impact of suicide. Through a range of mental health initiatives, the government supports communities to target assistance to individuals and groups identified as at high risk of suicide."

LIFE SAVERS

Lifeline's steps to saving a person from suicide:

ASK: If you think someone is on the edge, ask them "are you thinking about suicide?". Make sure you ask directly and unambiguously.

LISTEN AND STAY WITH THEM: If they say they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don't leave them alone.

GET HELP: Call a crisis line or 000 if a person's life is in danger. If the risk is not immediate, take them to a GP or psychologist to help them get long-term support.

WHERE TO GET HELP: If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 131 114; the Suicide Call Back

Service on 1300 659 467 or Kids Helpline on

1800 55 1800.



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