Media Release – World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

The PVA delegation meeting with His Excellency Governor-General David Hurley to brief on the critical need for postvention

Shining a Light on those Bereaved by Suicide


CANBERRA:    Australia’s ‘founding father’ of suicide prevention will today make an impassioned plea to the Morrison government to recognise the most overlooked aspect of mental health – those 440,000 Australians bereaved by suicide each year.

“The need to care for those who have lost a loved one or friend to suicide is critical,” said Alan Staines OAM, who is the founder of both national peak bodies, Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) and Postvention Australia (PVA).  Mr Staines, the pioneer in this field, has been working on the streets with the troubled and underprivileged since he was a young Salvationist and has been one for over 80 years.

Now 87, the Salvation Army Envoy will lead a high-level delegation today to meet with senior advisers to the Prime Minister and Health Minister Greg Hunt. The group of experts, survivors and First Nations representatives, will also be meeting with His Excellency David Hurley at Government House to highlight the ‘Cinderella’ of mental health.

Postvention is the term used in supporting those bereaved by suicide.   The number in Australia annually impacted by suicide roughly equates to the population of Canberra.  Studies show that 135 people are directly exposed to varying levels of intense grief for each suicide death and close family members are at eight times higher risk of suicide themselves than the general population during these heartbreaking episodes.

“Many people are falling through the cracks and are largely going unsupported,” said Alan Staines adding “Postvention is prevention”.

Indirectly and often more directly, whole communities are affected. The same can be said about clubs, sporting organisations, local communities and over-whelmingly about our First Nation peoples and communities.

“Behind these statistics are thousands of people, families bereaved by suicide coping with a traumatic, anguished and debilitating grief – these people need our understanding and support,” said a member of the delegation, Dr Diana Sands, Director of the Centre for Intense Grief.

The eminent person delegation from across Australia, will present the case for initial funding to support the critical work of Postvention Australia, named the peak body for bereavement at the recent 6th Biennial Australian Postvention Conference in June.

The visit and call to action to the Federal government comes on World Suicide Prevention Day which Alan Staines and fellow campaigner Brad Farmer first launched together in 2004.

The Prime Minister has recently been quoted as saying: “This is a big job, a curse on our country but I’m sure working together, we can break it.”

The delegation includes Indigenous mental health leader Adele Cox, Emeritus Professor Ian Webster AO, Dr Diana Sands and Brad Farmer AM.

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning:

FURTHER: Brad Farmer AM (Hon. Advocate & Comms) on 0413 031870 to arrange an interview or to receive more information. Vision, images and interviews on request by arrangement: [email protected]


In 2017, there was a total of 3128 deaths by suicide (12.7 per 100,000) in Australia, which is an increase from 2016 (2866 deaths, 11.8 per 100,000).

Suicide is the result of a convergence of risk factors including but not limited to genetic, psychological, social and cultural risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss.  For every 1 suicide, more than 25 people make a suicide attemptEven more concerning is the ripple effect of suicide loss on individuals, families, friends and acquaintances with an average of 135 people affected by each individual suicide death.

Sadly, relatives and close friends of people who die by suicide also can become a high-risk group for suicide due to:

  • The psychological trauma of a suicide loss
  • Potential shared familial and environmental risk
  • Suicide contagion through the process of social modelling, and
  • The burden of stigma associated with this loss with suicide still criminalised in 25 countries

More than 108 million people are directly bereaved by suicide worldwide every year with the cumulative effect of suicide adding to those numbers meaning that over a ten-year period more than 1080 million people are impacted by suicide loss. This is one of the world’s most significant yet still generally unrecognised, preventative population health issue with its ongoing cumulative affects a serious population health concern across the globe. In addition, the ‘ripple effect’ of suicide means that many others are impacted by each suicide death. This may be members of sporting teams who have lost a team mate to suicide or those impacted by the death of a well-known celebrity. The impact of suicide across communities, states and countries cannot be understated – this is one of the world’s most serious and preventable population health issues.



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