Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day. The World Health Organisation estimates 800,000 people die by suicide every year around the world; one person every 40 seconds. Suicide Prevention Australia said 2,864 Australians took their own life in 2014.
Australia has made significant moves in the suicide prevention and mental health spheres in recent years; mental health was at times a major issue during the recent election campaign, with Labor especially pushing for change and reform. The opposition outlined a suicide prevention strategy and a plan to halve Australia's suicide rate within ten years.
But some say more needs to be done. The Greens' new mental health spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert, wants the government to institute a national suicide prevention target.
"For the past 10 years, the suicide rate in Australia has not dropped. Action is needed to address the tragedy of people talking their own lives," she told The Huffington Post Australia.
"The theme this year [of World Suicide Prevention Day] is connect, communicate and care, as Suicide Prevention Australia points out these three words are at the heart of suicide prevention. On World Suicide Prevention Day, the Government has the opportunity to take meaningful action to help reduce suicide rates in Australia."
The Greens had announced support for a $1.4 billion mental health package during the election campaign. A suicide prevention target was outlined by Labor, with their strategy including funding for suicide pilot services in regional areas and a suicide prevention fund. Siewert wants Malcolm Turnbull's government to commit to a similar target, and will introduce a motion into the Senate next week.
"Mental health stakeholders have called for a national suicide prevention target, in order to reduce suicides in Australia. The Government should use expertise in the mental health field and take meaningful action in this space," she said.
"Next week I will introduce a motion in the Senate calling for this much needed target to be introduced. I urge the Senate to support it".