Yawning Gap in Suicide Prevention Report


pic by John

Major report acknowledges high LGBTIQ youth suicide rate but offers no response

Orygen – The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, has published a report Raising the Bar For Youth Suicide Prevention. It’s a disturbing document:

“Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health has released a major report that shows that despite 20 years of suicide prevention strategies and investment by all levels of government, suicide rates among Australian young people are increasing. The report calls for a reinvigorated suicide prevention response that specifically responds to the needs and experiences of young people.”

The report clearly acknowledges

  • rates of suicide and self-harm are up to six times higher among LGBTIQ young people
  • the association between homophobic abuse and suicide and self-harm

It quotes from a recent UK report (does no equivalent report exist in Australia?) exploring self-harm, suicidal feelings and help-seeking among LGBT youth which found:

  • over 70 per cent experienced discrimination, bullying, rejection, physical and verbal violence, threats and/or other forms of marginalisation related to their sexual orientation and gender identity
  • those who felt affected by this abuse were 2.18 times more likely to plan or attempt suicide than those unaffected.
  • 82.9 per cent had not told everyone they needed to about their sexuality and gender and
  • almost 75 per cent indicated that not being able to talk about their feelings or emotions influenced their self-harm and suicidal feelings either ‘very much’ or ‘completely’

The report recommends

The Australian Government should lead the development of a separate Youth Suicide Prevention Plan that sits under the new National Suicide Prevention Strategy. This should address the unique needs of young people, with particular consideration given to specific groups of young people who may be at elevated risk (including young people with serious and complex experiences of mental ill-health; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and LGBTIQ young people);

The report reports shocking rates of suicide among Aboriginal youth at roughly the same level as LGBTIQ youth:

Rates of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people (aged 5-17 years) are five times that of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (ABS, 2016).

It goes on to mention Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide prevention strategies, but not LGBTIQ. Inexplicably, it fails to comment on this yawning gap.

A search reveals 49 instances of the words “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” youth, compared to only seven of “LGBTIQ”. Did we go into the too hard basket?

Our National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health needs to do much much better for our LGBTIQ young people.

  • Lifeline (lifeline.org.au) is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services Call 13 11 14
  • Kids Help Line (kidshelp.com.au) is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and counselling services for Australians aged 5–25 Call 1800 55 1800

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)