For 24-hour mental health crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. A trained crisis supporter is ready to take your call.
Australia has done an enviable job at squashing the epidemic curve of COVID-19. But as the National Cabinet begins to chart our way out of social distancing restrictions, there are urgent calls for it not to ignore another looming crisis in the process.
Modelling led by the University of Sydney has presented a stark warning about a possible surge in suicide risk in the wake of COVID-19, to the point that it could claim more victims than the virus itself.
Watch: Sadness versus depression.
The research looked at the adverse impact of COVID-19 on unemployment, social dislocation and mental health in Australia, and found that there may be a 25 per cent increase in the number of suicides. Thirty per cent of those are likely to be among young people.
In a joint statement about the findings, released today, Australian Medical Association President Dr Tony Bartone, Co-Director of University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre Professor Ian Hickie AM, and the executive director of youth mental health research organisation Orygen, Professor Patrick McGorry AO, called for the cabinet to prioritise mental health and suicide prevention in their COVID-19 recovery plans.
“We are facing a situation where between an extra 750 and 1500 more suicides may occur annually, in addition to the 3000 plus lives that are lost to suicide already every year,” they said.
“Such a death rate is likely at this stage to overshadow the number of deaths in Australia directly attributable to COVID-19 infection.”