Australian suicide deaths among women and teenage girls rising, ABS figures show.

By Mazoe Ford.

The number of Australians who took their own lives surpassed 3,000 last year for the first time, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have revealed.

In 2015, there were 3,027 people who died by suicide — 2,292 were men and 735 were women.

The figures show that deaths from self-harm are three times more common for males than females, however the number of women who end their lives is going up.

Chief executive of Suicide Prevention Australia, Sue Murray, told ABC News this trend was concerning.

“We have seen a 26 per cent increase in the suicide rates among women and the numbers of suicides among women (rise) over the last five year period,” Ms Murray said.

“We don’t know why this is occurring, so we really need to see the government come on board with investment in research, so we can really understand what it is that is bringing about this increase and the way in which [women] are choosing to take their own lives.”

The ABS statistics also reveal that the number of teenage girls who die by suicide has almost doubled in a year.

In 2015, 56 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 ended their lives, up from 38 in 2014.

“The numbers are not large but certainly the fact that it is a 45 per cent increase in a one-year period certainly needs good investigation,” Ms Murray said.


“I think we need to be looking very carefully at the type of suicide prevention programs we’re delivering.”

Survivor says don’t give up on treatment

Hayley Purdon, 28, attempted suicide when she was 20 years old.

She told ABC News she had low self esteem, depression, anxiety and an eating disorder in her teens but she was too afraid to talk about it with her friends, family or doctor because of the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“It was just so hard to discuss things like that, there is such shame that comes with those sorts of feelings that you don’t want to be honest with people,” Miss Purdon said.

“It was a massive barrier for me getting help at the time.”

Miss Purdon was hospitalised for two days after her suicide attempt eight years ago and then saw a psychologist for the next year.

“That was really what saved my life — having someone I could trust and connect with and someone whose approach to therapy suited what I needed,” Miss Purdon said.

With the release of today’s statistics she urged other people with suicidal thoughts not to give up, even if previous treatments had not helped them.

“There are so many different ways of treating mental health issues,” she said.


She now sees a psychologist occasionally if she needs to, but otherwise has found solace in a job she loves and hobbies that make her happy, such as gardening, flying small aeroplanes and sewing.

“I have a massive list of things that make me feel positive about life now — I have a really good life,” she said.

People with mental illness highly represented in suicide statistics

The chief executive of the national mental health charity SANE Australia, Jack Heath, says people with mental health conditions are highly represented in the statistics.

“An area we really need to focus our activity on, is for those people who are living with severe and complex mental illnesses,” Mr Heath told ABC News.

“According to the National Mental Health Commission that adds up to around 690,000 Australians and when we look at the suicide rates for those people they’re 10-40 times the general population.

“So whether it’s schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, or an eating disorder, those people have suicide rates far and above any other group in the community.

“We need to focus on reducing the stigma and shame that’s associated with mental illness.”

ABS figures reveal:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44
  • 3,027 suicide deaths in 2015 — up 5.4 per cent from total of 2,864 in 2014
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people with 152 deaths by suicide in 2015, up from 143 in 2014
  • Highest rate of suicide reported in 2015 was men in 85+ age group with 68 deaths
  • All states except South Australia reported a stable or rising rate of suicide deaths in 2015

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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