Suicide rates in NSW spike in early 2021

·1-min read

The number of people in NSW who took their own lives in January 2021 is almost 30 per cent higher than the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

NSW government data issued on Friday shows 104 people committed suicide in January 2021, compared with 81 in January 2020.

However, the number of lives lost to suicide in NSW throughout the pandemic-hit 2020 dipped by five per cent, from 944 in 2019 to 898 in 2020.

Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nieves Murray said state and federal governments needed to prioritise suicide prevention efforts.

This was particularly important amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Investment in suicide prevention services and programs must continue to be a priority so that our communities can be protected during these unprecedented times," Ms Murray said in a statement.

Ms Murray said investment in mental health support and financial supports such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker had helped reduce suicides in 2020.

But the end of JobKeeper next week would have a negative impact.

"On 31 March we will see many of these crucial financial supports cease to exist ... our worry is that if any of these protective measures are reduced or removed the flow-on effects will be dire," Ms Murray said.

The NSW Suicide Monitoring System found almost half of the reported suicides in January 2021 took place in Greater Sydney.

Almost 80 per cent of the suicides were by men, with the highest incidence occurring in people aged between 25 and 44 years old.

Nationally, calls to Lifeline's helpline rose by 20 per cent over 2020.

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