National suicide prevention program linked to halving of young male suicide rates
17 November 2006
The suicide rate among young Australian men halved between 1997 and 2003, and a major government youth suicide prevention program may be at least partly responsible for the dramatic drop.
The long-term link between unemployment and young male suicide also appears to have been broken, according to Dr Stephen Morrell from the University of Sydney's School of Public Health.
The suicide rate among men aged 20-24 years fell from approximately 40 per 100,000 in 1997-98 to approximately 20 per 100,000 in 2003, said Dr Morrell.
"Most of the decline is due to a decrease in suicide by hanging and, to a lesser extent, from motor vehicle carbon monoxide and other gases," Dr Morrell said.
"The decline in young male suicide by methods that require some forethought and planning - as opposed to impulsive means such as jumping - lends weight to the theory that the National Youth Prevention Strategy (NYSPS) has been at least partially effective," said Dr Morrell.
Combined with a break in the long-term link between youth unemployment and young male suicide rates, the statistical and circumstantial evidence strongly indicates the NYSPS program has had an impact on young male suicide.
Lending further weight to the theory is Dr Morrell's finding that the National Suicide Prevention Strategy (NSPS), aimed at a wider age group and introduced after the NYSPS strategy, seems to be associated with a later reduction in suicide in older male age groups.
Dr Morrell and colleagues from the University of Queensland extensively analysed the suicide data over the period 1966-2003. They published their research this month in the In Press version of the Social Science and Medicine journal.
Contact: Kath Kenny
Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100