Suicide attempt survivors key to suicide prevention

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25th September 2019

Suicide attempt survivors key to suicide prevention

SANE welcomes the slight decrease in the number of people dying by suicide - 3046 deaths in 2018 down from 3128 deaths in 2017 - although notes these are preliminary figures and that behind every death are a family, friends and a community.

In light of the still unacceptably high number of people taking their life each year, SANE CEO Jack Heath has called for the lived experience of suicide attempt survivors to play a bigger role in suicide prevention.

“If we are going to have any chance of reducing suicide deaths to zero, people who have survived a suicide attempt have a critical role to play in helping to design and improve the systems of support available for those of us experiencing life and mental health challenges,” said Mr Heath.

“Each year, around 100,000 Australians attempt suicide and it is estimated that more than 500,000 Australians have attempted suicide at some time in their life. Very few have shared their story of survival. 

“Suicide is complex and many factors contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. For those of us who have lost a loved one to suicide, we know the devastation that follows as we try to pick up the pieces but when you yourself are in that dark space, the concerns and care of loved ones and professionals are not always enough to keep you going.  This is why we need to mobilise and give voice to those who’ve also been in that dark space but have found a path to recovery – we need to share their stories and their tools for life to inspire others.

“We also need to acknowledge that those of us living with complex mental health issues are 10-45 times more likely to die from suicide and this means we need increased levels of essential treatment and support.”

According to international research, people living with schizophrenia are 13 times more likely to take their own lives than the general population. Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder,17 times; major depressive disorder, 20 times; anorexia nervosa 31 times; and people living with borderline personality disorder are 45 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population.[1]

“We are encouraged by Prime Minister Morrison’s increased focus on suicide prevention and the recent appointment of Christine Morgan as the Suicide Prevention Advisor, and we certainly hope that this initiative directs further investment into the appropriate areas so that the people who need assistance urgently can receive it sooner rather than later,” explains Mr Heath.

Anyone looking for information, support and guidance from mental health professionals can contact the SANE Help Centre on 1800 187 263 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. from 10am-10pm AEST.  For anyone in crisis, call:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Line 1800 659 467
  • Mensline 1300 789 978
  • KidsHelpline 1800 551 800

[1] Chesney, Edward & Goodwin, Guy & Fazel, Seena. (2014). Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: A meta-review. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). 13. 153-60. 10.1002/wps.20128.


SANE is a national mental health charity that aims to make a real difference. We work to support four million Australians affected by complex mental health issues including schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression and anxiety.

To request an interview with SANE CEO, Jack Heath, please contact:

Bronwyn Miller
Media & StigmaWatch Coordinator at SANE
Phone: 0438 092 371
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Kathryn Howley
Assistant to CEO at SANE
Phone: 0439 708 381
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Last updated: 25 September 2019

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