A national survey undertaken for World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) has revealed mixed results when it comes to suicide stigma in Australia.

Lifeline Adelaide Service Manager, Danielle Hanisch, says that there is still much to be done to support better understanding of suicide – particularly in light of the news of 13-year-old Adelaide schoolgirl, Libby Bell, who took her life early last week.

‘While it’s encouraging that some perceptions are changing as a result of Lifeline’s community and education programs across the country, we are very concerned to see that around one-third of survey respondents labelled suicide as “irresponsible”, “cowardly” and “stupid”,’ says Ms Hanisch.

She says that Libby Bell’s case has highlighted the vulnerability of young people in our community when it comes to mental health and feeling encouraged to speak out.

‘Young people are subject to a variety of pressures and stresses that can seem overwhelming, from their home lives to the schoolyard. We need to ensure that people who are struggling – particularly young people experiencing bullying and negative peer pressures – feel able to reach out for help to services like Lifeline’s phone line or online chat, knowing they will get the right support.

‘Removing the stigma from discussions around suicide is absolutely critical to this.’

Other key survey findings of the survey conducted by Colmar Brunton for the suicide prevention sector include:

  • Respondents with greater knowledge about suicide prevention had significantly lower levels of stigma
  • Most respondents attributed suicide to someone being disconnected (68%), lonely (70%) or lost (76%)
  • A third of respondents attributed suicide to someone being irresponsible (35%), cowardly (34%) or stupid (29%).

The survey results will be available here on 10 September 2017.

Ms Hanisch says the results support the idea that everyone can play a part in preventing suicide.

‘Our staff and volunteers understand the life-saving difference a caring and non-judgemental conversation can make, she says. ‘You don’t need to be a doctor or psychologist to help a friend or family member – we can all take a minute to reach out to someone who might be going through tough times.

‘If you’re concerned someone you know is thinking about suicide, it’s important to ask the question: “are you thinking about suicide?”. By asking directly and unambiguously, it shows you care and are willing to talk about it.’

For media contact
Danielle Hanisch, Service Manager, Lifeline Adelaide
0408 840 142

NB: Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone crisis line 13 11 14 is pronounced ‘thirteen eleven fourteen’
For 24/7 crisis support or suicide prevention services, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au