A new program will help track suicides in real time, allowing schools, health workers and services to follow any worrying trends.
Nearly 700 people committed suicide in New South Wales between January 1 and the end of September this year, including more than 20 on Sydney’s northern beaches alone.
The new surveillance system would provide real-time data regarding the location, age and gender of a victim.
This information will be posted on the NSW Health website, meaning anyone, including schools, health services and frontline workers, will be able to access it.
The data will be available about a month after a person’s death, compared to an average of 12 months previously.
“This means that from now on we will be able to make critical decisions about local health services and responses in communities where we can effectively see risks emerge in real time instead of reacting to threats. year-old data, ”Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said.
“It’s something people have been calling for a while.”
The announcement comes months after a cluster of youth suicides broke out on Sydney’s northern beaches, where several students have committed suicide this year.
While Ms Taylor denied that the program was developed in response to a cluster, she said the idea behind the program was to target any clusters that might grow in the future.
“Every death by suicide is a tragedy, not only for the person, but also for their family, loved ones and their entire community,” she said.
Suicide rates have remained relatively stable in 2020 despite the current coronavirus crisis that has devastated families and businesses.
About 673 people have committed suicide in New South Wales (between January 1 and September 30), up from 672 for the same period last year.
The majority of them are men with 505 tragically dead, compared to 168 women.
Ms Taylor said that while the rates were stable, they had to come down.
“Are we going to do everything in our power every day to make sure people have the health they deserve?” Absolutely. ”She said.
When asked why the government has taken so long to implement this system, Taylor said the process required the collaboration of various departments to create an accurate and timely system.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the system would provide “meaningful information” to those on the front lines.
“We hope to do more sophisticated data collection in the months and years to come so that we can identify where the problems lie and dedicate the appropriate resources to those areas and target our responses so that we can reduce suicides in Nova Scotia. South Wales, ”he told reporters on Monday.
Labor leader Jodi McKay called for a royal commission on mental health and suicide on Sunday after nearly 1,000 people committed suicide in New South Wales last year.
“Too many young people are dying by suicide,” Ms. McKay said.
“At the height of the drought, men were committing suicide. Mental health is a huge problem and families are going through hell all over New South Wales because they are not getting the support they need.
“We urgently need to ensure that mental health services are accessible to young people in schools and to everyone in the regions and rural areas of New South Wales. I am calling for a royal commission to shed light on what has gone so wrong in the delivery of mental health services.
The next step for the program, which is part of the Berejiklian government’s Towards Zero campaign, will be to expand the dataset to include information on social, economic and other pressures a person may have experienced, as well as anything else. previous contact with health. services.