Local suicide deaths double road toll: study

New research has revealed there are almost twice as many suicides as road fatalities in the federal electorate of Canning, which includes Mandurah, Pinjarra and the Peel region.

The figures, released by mental health consulting firm ConNetica, showed there were 90 suicides in Canning between 2009 and 2012, compared to 54 road deaths.

The number of suicides equates to almost one a fortnight.

“What we see in electorates like Canning, is the impact of economic change,” ConNetica director and professor John Mendoza said.

“Families in these areas are under sustained pressure from changes in circumstances they cannot control.”

National mental health commissioner Professor Ian Hickie AM said: “The very high levels of psychological distress and higher unemployment increase the risks of mental illness, suicide and self-harm for the people of Canning.

“But like we have seen in other areas like Newcastle, we see communities working together to renew the region.

“Canning needs to see regional economic development with coordinated regional suicide prevention during this challenging period.”

Professor John Mendoza speaking about suicide prevention policy. Video: YouTube.

The areas with highest rates of suicide in Canning are centred around Yunderup and Mandurah.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the ABC last week: “There is no doubt that mental health or mental illness has an enormous cost on our community.

“It's a huge challenge, but I can assure you my government is keenly aware of the issue of suicide and the issue of mental health overall.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to improve, protect and advance the mental health of Australia; the mental wealth of Australia.”

Social impact: Unemployment and education rates both play a role in the suicide toll. Source: ConNetica.

Social impact: Unemployment and education rates both play a role in the suicide toll. Source: ConNetica.

Mr Turnbull met with Canning MP Andrew Hastie and a delegation from the Mandurah community earlier this year after a spate of youth suicides in Mandurah.

Mr Hastie said at the time he was urging the Prime Minister and health minister Sussan Ley to consider funding for a new youth health hub to be run by the Peel Youth Medical Service (PYMS), which would bring all the services available for young people in Mandurah together under one roof.

“The PYMS Health Hub is a best practice, GP-centered model of care that will provide a suite of services for 12-24 year olds dealing with drug and alcohol issues, mental health issues, family dysfunction and homelessness,” he said.

Support is available for anyone who may need help by calling Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Lifeline on 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 22 46 36.

Suicides by area: A map of the Canning area showing the number of suicides between 2009 and 2012. Image: ConNetica.

Suicides by area: A map of the Canning area showing the number of suicides between 2009 and 2012. Image: ConNetica.

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