The official statistics for suicide rates for 2020 in Australia have not been released yet. However, some interesting information is coming from New South Wales, who started a Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System this year. They use data collected from NSW Police and the State Coroner to estimate the number of recent suspected and confirmed suicides. They recently published their data for 2020, which showed that suicides in NSW had fallen by 5%

This is very interesting given the predictions that suicide would significantly increase in 2020. This prediction was based partly on real data showing an increase in suicide as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis. The increases in suicide rates were greater for men than women and this increase in male suicide rates was associated with increases in unemployment. So we expected with the increased rates of unemployment, to see increased rates of suicide.

It could be that the Australia government’s economic assistance may have helped. We had initiatives of financial assistance in JobSeeker and JobKeeper, as well as people accessing superannuation if under financial pressure. We know that when a person feels like a burden, their risk of suicide can increase. It is possible that people lost their jobs, but didn’t feel as much of a burden if they could access government financial payments and superannuation funds?

I think 2020 opened up a lot of conversations and media attention to mental wellbeing and I hope that has helped people feel less alone. If people can connect with someone when they are feeling distressed, worried, stressed, or depressed, and they can receive an understanding ear and a helping hand to get professional help if needed, then this will hopefully help decrease rates of suicide.