28th August 2009
Suicide Prevention Australia launches a new position statement calling for improved responses to the higher rates of self harm and attempted suicides amongst the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) communities.
Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) launched a new position statement today at the Inspire Foundation in Sydney, titled - Suicide and self-harm amongst Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities. It pulls together research collected over the last decade on self-harm and suicide attempts amongst gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. It demonstrates much higher rates than among non-GLBT populations and calls for the Australian Government to develop targeted suicide and self harm prevention strategies for these communities. Photo
Officially launched by the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG, retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, the position statement, builds on SPA‟s existing events-based advocacy agenda. It proposes a clearly defined set of guiding principles and recommendations for action and change.
Dr Michael Dudley, SPA Chairperson said, “We know that same sex attracted individuals attempt suicides at a rate of 3.5 to 14 times those of their heterosexual peers, and that one in five transgender people report current suicidal feelings However we do not fully understand the extent of completed suicides amongst the GLBT, partly due to the knowledge that many suicide attempts amongst the GLBT people occur while still coming to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity and prior to disclosing their identity to others. Thus we suspect that many GLBT suicides go unreported”. Dr Dudley added “these alarming statistics show us that we must work harder as a community to value ALL people and their quality of life.”
The Position Statement points out that research has found a direct association between discrimination and many of the key risk factors for suicide and self harm. Discrimination and violence against GLBT communities in Australia still exists, with 80 per cent of GLBT Australians reporting having experienced public insult, 70 per cent verbal abuse, 20 per cent explicit threats and 13 per cent physical assault. Homophobia and transphobia also remains a major concern, especially in schools and rural settings.
The Honourable Michael Kirby, AC CMG said, “There is no excuse, whether heterosexual or gay, to avoid our obligation to try to eradicate this discrimination and injustice”. He added, “Heterosexuals and GLBT individuals and communities must work together to build strategies that actively address hetrosexism, and promote inclusive, safe and supportive environments are therefore critical to suicide and self-harm prevention for GLBT communities.”
Associate Professor Anne Mitchell who co-chaired the Reference Group to develop the position statement explained, “that some GLBT people are at greater risk than others, especially same-sex attracted and transgender youth, older GLBT people and those living in rural and remote communities.” She added, “The SPA Position Statement strongly advocates that greater attention be afforded to detailed research on these issues”.
Ryan McGlaughlin, SPA Executive Officer says “in order to see greater help-seeking, mainstream mental health services need to better understand GLBT needs, while GLBT community organisations require improved training in mental health promotion and suicide risk assessment.”
To download a copy of the SPA Position Statement, visit: http://www.suicidepreventionaust.org/PositionStatements.aspx
To access accurate information about suicide and the portrayal of suicide in the media, please visit: http://www.mindframe-media.info
For more information or requests for interview please contact:
SPA Executive Officer
Phone: + 61 2 9568 3111
Mobile: 0425 382 800
Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) is a non-profit, community organisation working as a public health advocate in suicide and self-harm prevention, intervention and postvention. SPA is the only national umbrella body active in suicide prevention throughout Australia, promoting:
· Community awareness and advocacy;
· Collaboration and partnerships between communities, practitioners, research and industry;
· Information access and sharing; and
· Local, regional and national forums, conferences and events.
As a national organisation, SPA supports and assists both individuals and organisations throughout Australia, by promoting collaboration and partnerships in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. SPA is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The Inspire Foundation is an Australian non-profit organisation established in 1996 in response to the then escalating rates of youth suicide. Inspire‟s vision is to make a global contribution to young people‟s mental health and wellbeing. With the mission to help millions of young people lead happier lives, Inspire works directly with young people aged 14-25 to deliver innovative, technology and evidence-based programs which prevent youth suicide and promote young people‟s mental health and wellbeing:
· Reach Out provides information, support and resources to improve young people‟s understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, increase coping skills and facilitate help-seeking behaviour www.reachout.com
· ActNow provides young people with opportunities to find out more about their world and take action on the issues they care about www.actnow.com.au
Atari Metcalf - ActNow Project Manager
Atari is the ActNow Project Manager at Inspire Foundation where he manages the Bridging Digital Divide project alongside developing strategies to promote the mental health and wellbeing of young carers, same sex attracted and gender diverse young people. Having worked in a variety of health promotion roles over the last seven years, Atari has worked closely with young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences across Australia at both grassroots and population based levels. He has a BSc in Health Promotion from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, WA, and is particularly passionate about meaningful youth participation, the social determinants of health, and using technology in creative ways to promote health and wellbeing.
Dr Michael Dudley - Suicide Prevention Australia Chair Person
Michael has been the Chairperson of the SPA Board since 2003. Working as a Psychiatrist at Prince of Wales and Sydney Children‟s Hospitals, Michael has extensive experience in working with youth, indigenous people, and refugees who at risk of suicide and self harm. Michael is a Conjoint Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales and conducts research into risk and protective factors in youth across metropolitan and regional areas of Australia. Michael is currently a member of both the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council (ASPAC) and the Advisory Board of Inspire Foundation‟s „Reach Out!‟ Program. Michael is motivated by the possibility of prevention in the tragedy of suicide, and by the collective hope that organisations like SPA provide for pursuing the goal of achieving an inclusive society.
Anne Mitchell - Associate Professor, La Trobe University
Associate Professor Anne Mitchell is a community development worker and an adult educator with over twenty years experience in the field of sexual health. She has worked in AIDS education programs, in sexual health promotion and alcohol and drug prevention programs. She is currently Director of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria situated within the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University This unit has the responsibility of working at a systems level to improve the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people in Victoria. She has published widely in the field of gay and lesbian health and has considerable experience in advocacy and community development work in this community. She was formerly Deputy Chair of the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian Health.
Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG - Retired Justice of the High Courts of Australia
When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia‟s longest serving judge. He was first appointed in 1975 as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he was seconded as inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84). Later, he was appointed a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal and, concurrently, the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands. His appointment to the High Court came in 1996 and he served thirteen years. In later years, he was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice.
In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby served on three university governing bodies being elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-93). He also served on national and international bodies. Amongst the latter have been service as President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-6); as a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); as a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights‟ Judicial Reference Group (2007-) and as a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on Human Rights(2004-).
Since his judicial retirement, Michael Kirby has been elected President of the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia. He has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor by eight Australian universities. And he participates regularly in many local and international conferences and meetings.
Ryan McGlaughlin – Suicide Prevention Australia Executive Officer
Since joining SPA in 2004, Ryan has focussed on the continuous improvement and strategic development of the organisation. Leading the small SPA staff team, Ryan plays a pivotal role in all the organisations activities, working to foster relationships with stakeholders, developing communications, managing events and projects, and implementing administration and management systems. Drawing on his extensive experience with a range of NGOs, including Planet Ark, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, People Living with HIVAIDS (NSW), Ryan has gained a sound understanding of the importance of collaboration, advocacy, and effective communication when working to improve our communities. Ryan has been a volunteer Board member of numerous NGO‟s including the AIDS Council of New South Wales and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. Ryan is motivated by our collective responsibility to contribute to our society and a notion of „community connectedness‟; whatever that means for each individual.
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