(2003 to 2005)

Suicide in Australia

Thu Apr 29 19:36:00 UTC+1000 2004


So I was sitting here, day dreaming. It's funny how your mind goes from one thing to another. I was day dreaming about how I was the most awesome programmer ever! and I was thinking that if I worked for a big company in Sydney I would make them install a veranda for my office so I could smoke outside (because I am so awesome they would do anything for me ;). Anyway, I got over myself for a little while and realised that there aren't verandas on Sydney buildings. Then I realised there weren't even buildings with windows that opened, or even if there was they only represented a very small percentage of buildings in the CBD. Basically it's rare (particularly in a work environment, not so much in apartments).

I was wondering about this. It only took a few seconds to realise the reason would be because of suicide. Then I remembered my Dad telling me about a mate of his who went up to the top of the building at Australia Square (forget the name, there's a revolving restaurant up there) with a hammer, smashed out the window, and jumped. When telling me the story (while we were at that restaurant) he commented on how the story hadn't made any of the papers, etc.

I started thinking about that. I've noticed it through my life how everyone just shuts the fuck up about suicide. Particularly the media. I thought about how many times in my life a train has been delayed while a body was cleaned off the tracks, and just what I've known and seen about suicide and realised that there must be quite a few suicides.

I hate the media, and I was thinking about the media and how if I had a breakfast show everyday I'd remind everyone how many people died from suicide yesterday and blame them. Like Andrew Denton would: “Society is to blame!”. I guess it would be true too. I wondered why there wasn't any standard sort of news section that I'd ever noticed that mentioned suicide rates, etc.

Anyway, I snapped out of my day dreaming and realised that since I was sitting in front of my computer I could find out about suicide rates in this country. The first thing that I found was Special Article - Suicide from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I was pretty amazed to see this in the first paragraph: “In 1988, suicide accounted for about 12.8% of all deaths and ranked as the sixth leading cause of all deaths“.

That's 12.8 percent of all deaths! That's a fucking lot in my opinion. Then they go on to say: “The actual number of suicides is thought to be higher than the number of registered suicides, because the true intention of some deaths is difficult to determine“. I bet it is. I've seen people deny suicide, but there's 12.8% undenied. So, at least 1 in 10 people that you know will kill themselves. Shit hey.

It was interesting to keep reading the stuff from the ABS. I found other articles that had (in light of the first article I found) really dubious stats on suicide. Like Health Status which listed 1.9% of deaths as due to “Intentional self-harm“. With the 'All other cases' at 23.1% those looked like 'happy figures' to me, and I couldn't help wonder who this report had been prepared for and what technical restrictions had been imposed on the definition of “Intentional self-harm”. Given particularly a definition that I found in Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia which sort of indicated “if in doubt it's not a suicide“, when my cynical nature would lead me to determine “if in doubt it was a suicide, or might as well have been”.

Well, I was blown away to find out (as best as I could infer) that about 12% of deaths have pretty regularly over Australian history been attributable to suicide. The most popular method of suicide is hanging. More men kill themselves, but more women try to kill themselves (are women incompetent? :/ ).

At any rate, it struck me as a pretty serious problem. I didn't realise so many people died from suicide. If you had have asked me to guess yesterday I would have said less than 1%. Over 10% is crazy high.

So. Two things:

1. Be excellent to each other.

2. Be excellent to each other!

That is all.


Copyright © 2003-2005 John Elliot