Every death one too many: Bunbury suicide figures

AN inaccurate “promotion” of suicides in Bunbury has been labelled irresponsible by mental health minister Helen Morton.

South West MLC Adele Farina raised the alarm of 29 confirmed suicides in Bunbury in 2010 -11 last Friday and called for an urgent inquiry into the cause of the “disturbing spike.”

Ms Farina said the figure represented a more than 100 per cent increase in Bunbury’s suicide rate and pointed to significantly under-resourced mental health services in the South West.

Mrs Morton said the information was not correct because Ms Farina’s figures referred to the Bunbury Coronial Jurisdiction, which included towns as far away as Manjimup and Waroona.

“It is very irresponsible for anyone to promote a spike of suicides in a particular area without the facts,” Mrs Morton said.

“Every suicide is too many – so far this year, between January 1 and June 30, there has been a total of five suspected suicides.”

Ms Farina said the minister had failed to address the serious issue at hand.

“It is disappointing that the minister has failed to be sufficiently concerned about the more than doubling of suicides in this area and failed to take any action to address the issue,” she said.

Ms Farina said the $13 million pledged for suicide prevention was largely unallocated by Mrs Morton, which was “shameful and negligent” in light of the suicide increase.

Mrs Morton said the government set up a suicide prevention strategy after a peak of rural suicides in 2006 and 2007.

A community action plan was created and rolled out in Bunbury after 2010.

Mrs Morton said she visited Bunbury recently and was impressed with the mental health services, especially the South West Mental Health Network.

The Mental Health Commission has teamed up with the South West Development Commission to fund a service coordinator who will help to deliver youth-friendly support and improve the region’s service network.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

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