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Complex suicide problems require a range of responses.

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Warwick Smith, MP

Minister for Family Services · Federal Member for Bass





10 August 1998


Complex suicide problems require a range of responses


Youth suicide prevention is a serious and complex problem that requires a range of responses from Governments and all sectors of the community.


Federal Family Services Minister Warwick Smith told the Australian People’s Forum on Youth Suicide, meeting in Canberra, that he believed that there were four essential elements of an effective and comprehensive suicide prevention strategy:


·  prevention programs which stop young people from becoming at risk of suicide;

·  improved identification of and responses to young people in crisis, including improved early intervention strategies;

·  improved treatment and support services for those at high risk; and

·  a well informed and supportive community.


Mr Smith opened the Australian People’s Forum on Youth Suicide on behalf of the Prime Minister, John Howard.


“Recently I announced the appointment of the National Advisory Council on Youth Suicide Prevention. The results of the forum will be considered by the national council when it meets for the first time later this week.


“I believe the most important people to consult about youth suicide prevention are young people and their families. They are in the best position to tell us what is needed and how to help each other.


“Australia’s suicide prevention programs are innovative and effective, and cover areas including the general population, early intervention programs, long term treatment and improved community support for young people.


“An area of concern revealed by research is copycat suicides which can be linked to media presentations which glamorise or normalise suicide. Adolescents who have existing mental health problems are particularly vulnerable to this influence,” he said.


A Life Promoting, Media Strategy is being developed which includes some specific projects such as Media Resource Kits for the reporting and portrayal of mental illness and suicide and encouraging partnerships between the various stakeholders including Government, media, school, community and health and welfare sectors.


“Forums like this make a real contribution to the process of building knowledge and developing new initiatives.


“The Federal Government’s $31 million National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy demonstrates our determination to reduce the rates of youth suicide,” Mr Smith said.


Contact:  John Wilson (02) 62777240, 0412437317.