Tasmania’s youth suicide rate has become the highest in the country, with youth workers blaming improperly targeted services and poor social indicators.
- Australian Youth Development Index shows Tasmanian statistics worsening
- Youth suicide rate 45 per 100,000 population each year
- Lack of targeted rural services a big problem say advocates
The Australian Youth Development Index examined the lives of young Australians, in particular their education, employment and mental health, over 10 years.
It found while the rest of the country saw improvements overall, Tasmania went backwards.
Last year in the state for every 100,000 people in the state 45 young people took their own lives, the highest per population in Australia.
Rural Alive and Well CEO Liz Little said the figures reflected the state’s social problems.
“Better mental health better education, better nutrition, more stable housing, positive family relationships employment, all of those things, we’re not doing well on improving those things,” she said.
Brett Maryniack is on the board of the Youth Network of Tasmania and was not surprised by the latest analysis on the health and wellbeing of the state’s youth.
He said many young people he had encountered suffered depression.
“Mental health issues are a huge problem in Tasmania, and the stigma is still around it, and there’s still been very little work done to undermine [the stigma],” Mr Maryniack said.
He was inspired to become an advocate for youth issues, after finding difficulty himself gaining employment in Tasmania.
Youth Network of Tasmania chair Ann Davie said residents outside of the major cities needed mental health programs tailored to their individual areas.
“We are a very regionalised state so again there are some pockets that are missing out, and I think that’s again getting back to the statistics,” she said.
Ms Little agreed more research was needed to figure what works best in the bush.
“We know that people in rural communities who have the highest rates of suicide have the most difficulty in going to services,” she said.
“One they can’t find them, and two when they do find them they don’t feel comfortable finding and attending them.”
Mental Health Council of Tasmania CEO Connie Digolis said more data was needed to create better programs for schools.
“What we’ve been missing is knowing who’s doing what where? So what’s happening in our schools and our communities to target suicide prevention,” she said.
“When we can actually see a decrease in lives lost in Tasmania to suicide then we’ll know we’ve been doing more than we have been doing and that we’re getting towards doing enough,” Ms Digolis said.
In a statement, the State Government said it has a long term plan to address the problem and has initiatives on suicide prevention and youth suicide.