Prision
Prision

Mental health experts fear suicide surge

MENTAL health advocates fear the number of suicides will increase by up to 50 per cent as businesses crawl back from the coronavirus pandemic.

LIVIN co-founder and chief executive Casey Lyons said governments had to take into account the mental health implications when making decisions in regards to lifting restrictions.

"Mental health awareness is now more crucial than ever before. Early anecdotal evidence suggests suicides could potentially increase by 50 per cent during the aftershock phase of the coronavirus pandemic," he said.

"During these unprecedented times of uncertainty and ambiguity, our mental health is being tested and ongoing support and care for our community is of the utmost importance. Mental health doesn't discriminate."

In the past year, inquires for the LIVINWell Workplace program have skyrocketed by 70

per cent, with close to a 30 per cent increase during the COVID-19 pandemic alone.

Co-Founder and CEO of Livin Casey Lyons says early anecdotal evidence suggests suicides could potentially increase by up to 50 per cent during the aftershock phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: David Clark
Co-Founder and CEO of Livin Casey Lyons says early anecdotal evidence suggests suicides could potentially increase by up to 50 per cent during the aftershock phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: David Clark

NEED HELP?

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800

 

Preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 3046 people took their lives in 2018, with an average of 8.3 deaths per day across the country. Queensland recorded the second highest number of suicides in Australia, 786, behind NSW with 899. From 2016-2018, 271 Gold Coasters died of suspected suicide. Nationally, the rate of suicide is three times greater for males.

Griffith Professor David Crompton OAM, from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, is undertaking a study on the impacts business shut downs have had on the suicide rate.

He said while data showed there had been a slight increase in suicides, it was still "early days".

Professor David Crompton says there’s evidence to suggest an association between unemployment and financial stress and a rise in mental health issues and self-harm. Picture: Chris McCormack.
Professor David Crompton says there’s evidence to suggest an association between unemployment and financial stress and a rise in mental health issues and self-harm. Picture: Chris McCormack.

"Some reports state an increase will be at 50 per cent, but there is difficulty to predict this, as it depends on how long the economic impact is expected to continue," Prof Crompton said.

"If you look at COVID-19 in terms of natural disasters, there is often a decline in the rate immediately after an event as social support is put in place, but two to four years later there starts to be an increase due to the withdrawal of that support."

 

MORE NEWS

State's border defence slammed as 'ludicrous'

Sharks 'in shock' over tragic death of teammate

Final straw for Ashmore Plaza retailers

Kick in the guts for small business owners

 

Prof Crompton said while a number of factors were relevant, there was evidence to suggest an association between unemployment and financial stress to a rise in mental health issues and self-harm.

Gold Coast clinical psychologist Dr Kamal Dhaliwal said there had been an increased call for mental health assistance since the lockdown began.

A Queensland police officer speaks with a motorist at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland-New South Wales border. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
A Queensland police officer speaks with a motorist at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland-New South Wales border. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

"People I have been working with for quite some time now are reporting an increase in symptoms they initially presented with. If it was depression there is a return of depression. If it was anxiety that has also returned.

"The situation has become a bit of a perfect storm, a high-pressure scenario with both relationships and work."

Dr Dhaliwal said with natural disasters there was a defined end. However, COVID-19 had led to further uncertainty.

"Often what happens after a natural disaster, there is an initial state of confusion and vulnerability, then there is a point where it is over.

"With coronavirus, no one knows how long you need to put your life on hold or when you should make a major decision.

"Economic uncertainty reduces people's choices - where they live, what they eat and do. People are fearful of where their next pay cheque will come, which raises anxiety and has knock-on effects like depression and substance abuse."

Gold Coast tourist parks have been quieter than normal due to COVID-19. Picture: Jerad Williams
Gold Coast tourist parks have been quieter than normal due to COVID-19. Picture: Jerad Williams

National mental Health Charity SANE Australia said any mental health response must go hand-in-hand with financial aid.

"We do know that when there are periods of high unemployment and economic recession can lead to poorer health outcomes in the community unfortunately can lead to suicide," Deputy CEO Dr Michelle Blanchard said.

"This is not inevitable, if we can ensure people have the best opportunity to re-enter the workforce as soon as they can and ensure adequate safety nets are in place for them in the mean time."

The organisation said work also needed to be done to further fund mental health services at the anticipated increase in demand.

"These services are often underfunded to start with," Dr Blanchard said.

Mental Health advocates say COVID-19 is causing a spike in depression and anxiety. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Mental Health advocates say COVID-19 is causing a spike in depression and anxiety. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

"Certainly in areas where the economy relies on tourism and a relatively young workforce we are likely to see a larger impact on mental health."

Currumbin Clinic chief executive Kate Cross said the private mental health facility had an increase in admissions and inquiries and "we are going to see the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions for months to come".

"I think we're seeing more information around the impacts on people's mental health, but I don't think mental health considerations are being considered as much as they should be."

Last month, the Federal Government pledged $48.1 million to support mental health as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It will focus on three areas including improving research and real-time data on the mental health impact of COVID-19, supporting accessible services for vulnerable groups.

 

NEED HELP?

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800

Originally published as Mental health experts fear suicide surge



Huge overhaul in works for popular Southside shop

Premium Content Huge overhaul in works for popular Southside shop

Developers are planning a huge transformation for an ‘outdated’ Southside business...

Early morning crash puts one in Gympie Hospital

Premium Content Early morning crash puts one in Gympie Hospital

One patient was taken to hospital after paramedics responded to a crash in Gympie...