8 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
1. Acknowledges that 13-17 February 2023 marked End Youth Suicide Week;
2. Notes that one in four young Australians experience a mental health issue each year;
3. Notes that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 14 to 25 and that approximately nine young people die by suicide every day; and
4. Recognises the valuable work of the Youth Insearch Foundation to reduce the incidence of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and suicide in young people.
This motion seeks to acknowledge that 13 to 17 February 2023 was End Youth Suicide Week, and notes that one in four young Australians experience a mental health issue every year. It notes that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 14 to 25, and that approximately nine young people die by suicide every day. It recognises the valuable work of the Youth Insearch Foundation to reduce the incidence of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and suicide in young people.
Many young people in Australia today are impacted by the problems stemming from poverty, broken and dysfunctional homes, domestic violence, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, death and grief, substance addiction and other traumatic events. As a consequence, many of these young people can struggle with education, employment, homelessness, and mental illness and find themselves turning to self-harm, suicidal ideation, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and violence.
But, also, we know that many young people take their own lives despite receiving significant support from family and friends, and that is a truly shocking and devastating thing for our community. Sadly, in Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death among those aged 14 to 25, and over one in three deaths of young people aged 14 to 25 are by suicide. In fact, approximately nine young people die by suicide in Australia every day. What is most heartbreaking is that this number continues to grow year by year.
I know, within my own social circle, I have seen the terrible effects that can flow from death by suicide, the terrible effect that has for family and friends left behind. Youth suicide in Australia disproportionately affects Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the LGBTIQ+ community, and young people living in rural and remote areas. These are truly awful statistics.
Fortunately, there are organisations, like Youth Insearch, that shine a light on this issue and provide early intervention and support. Established in 1985, Youth Insearch is an independent not-for-profit peer-led youth intervention organisation dedicated to supporting at-risk youth overcome trauma and mental health issues, protecting them against suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Youth Insearch runs one of the most successful youth intervention programs in our country. The program was developed together with young people back in 1985. The Youth Insearch program is an award-winning, proven, comprehensive early intervention program that consists of counselling, support, mentoring and empowerment for at-risk young people who are aged 14 to 20 and is delivered through weekend workshops, support groups, peer support, leadership and individual care.
The program works by allowing young people to confront and deal with the reality of the pain in their lives. By drawing on the resources of other young people and their experiences, the organisation is able to address the real problems or the underlying issues that many of these young people may face. About 30 per cent of young people who have attended the Youth Insearch program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and 10 per cent are culturally and linguistically diverse.
I understand that Youth Insearch leaders come from these diverse backgrounds and are all trained in cultural sensitivity as part of their work. In its 37 years of operation, Insearch has helped almost 32,000 young people rebuild their lives, and it has assisted a thousand young people across our country each year.
An independent external review commissioned by the New South Wales government found positive outcomes across multiple behaviour and wellbeing measures and found that the program had a sustained positive impact on these issues over time. Some of the reported positive outcomes included less trouble with police and crime, higher self-esteem, improved family relationships, reduced suicidal thoughts and attempts, reduced alcohol and drug use, and better attendance and attitude towards education.
Youth Insearch run an End Youth Suicide Week, which is a campaign to encourage the community and young people to defy the stigma associated with mental health and to have supportive conversations about suicide with their friends, families and communities. End Youth Suicide Week this year ran from Monday 13 to Friday 17 February.
I commend Youth Insearch for their success in combating youth suicide and for moving young people from trauma to triumph, and I congratulate them on a successful End Youth Suicide Week. I do hope that the week has led people to have conversations within their communities and improved awareness around suicide and has led to young people at risk being connected to the support that they need. With that, I commend the motion.