Simple intervention could prevent youth suicides

With the most recent figures attributing 321 out of 1218 youth deaths to suicide, World Suicide Prevention Day is a timely opportunity for people to learn prevention techniques.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate suicide was the leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds in 2011, accounting for 26 per cent of deaths – the highest proportion in 10 years.*

According to Kaylene Paradine, Program Manager at Carinity Communities – Wahroonga, a support service which has been helping to reduce the number of youth suicides in the Rockhampton region for the past decade, suicide is preventable and there are often signs leading up to it.

“People contemplating suicide may start to behave differently; for example, not completing tasks, withdrawing from family or friends, or not engaging in usual hobbies. Some exhibit changes in thought patterns, making comments like ‘I’m a failure’, or ‘people would be better off without me’.

“Changes in moods can also be signs, especially irritability, sadness, or fluctuating moods,” she said.

Ms Paradine, who has been a psychologist for more than 10 years, believes a small, direct conversation can benefit someone having suicide ideations.

“If you’re concerned about someone, you can ask them directly whether they’re considering suicide. If they haven’t been, they won’t suddenly start contemplating it. But if they were, mentioning it may encourage them to talk about their thoughts,” she said.

“Be aware of those around you. You don’t need to know all the right words to say; it’s the communication and connection which are crucial. However, in the case of people who are at risk, make sure they don’t have the means to go through with their plans, and seek professional help.

“Suicide is particularly a risk for young people, because they can be prone to behave impulsively,” she said.

In the past decade, the caring counsellors at Carinity Communities – Wahroonga have supported more than 1100 young people to move forward with their lives by helping them to deal with trauma, mental health issues and suicide ideation.

For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day visit

* 3303.0 Causes of death, Australia, 2011. The Australian Bureau of Statistics. Released 15 March 2013.

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