Mad About Mental Health – Suicide Watch

The subject is heartbreaking – according to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics[1] the leading cause of death for people aged 15-44 in 2014 was intentional self-harm.  Tragically, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, but the number of women aged 15-24 who suicided in 2014 rose by 50% compared to a 2% rise for men during the same period.

That’s 12 people out of every 100,000, 12 people who most likely have families and friends who are left bewildered and devastated – left asking how could this have happened, what could they have done differently and, for some, asking what did they do wrong?

So why do some people suicide?

‘Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide. Untreated mental illness (including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others) is the cause for the vast majority of suicides’[2].  Many people are of the view that suicide is a selfish act – what they may not know is that by the time someone decides to suicide it is most often out of desperation, with thoughts that it is their only option in the face of mental, emotional and/or physical suffering that is extremely debilitating and devastating to their quality of life.

Depression is often caused by a combination of difficult life events and personal factors[3], with severe consequences for the person’s state of mind. How they think and feel can become distorted – for example, often people who suicide think it is the best thing for their families and friends, and their only option. People who feel suicidal often feel lonely, isolated, hopeless and helpless. Those with little family or community support and no, or ineffective, treatment are most at risk. It is also important to understand the role that nutrition, sleep and exercise plays, not only in our physical health but in our emotional and mental wellbeing as well.

What can WE DO to prevent such a loss to our families and communities?

There are a number of protective factors (skills, strengths or resources)[4] that reduce the likelihood of people attempting or completing suicide: we can all help by becoming aware of and watching out for the signs and symptoms of mental health issues or suicidal thinking within our families, friendships and workplaces; help people stay connected to their communities; realise our significance to those within our family and friendship groups; support others by helping them change difficult or debilitating personal and environmental factors that impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing; understand the various treatments that are available – biological, psychological, social – and support people to get help.

NOTE: In Australia 24 hour 7 Day a week crisis support is available at Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636, Rural and Remote Distance Consultation and Emergency Triage and Liaison Service 13 14 65.  For longer term support we recommend counselling to assist with positive changes in thinking and wellbeing, as well as providing effective strategies addressing personal, environmental and other factors causing distress and affecting emotional and mental health.    

[1] Causes of Death, 2014, Australian Bureau of Statistics, (, cited 9th June 2016

[2] Kevin Caruso, ( cited 13th June 2016

[3] What causes depression, (, cited 13th June 2016

[4] Western Michigan University, (, cited 13th June 2016


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