Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) is encouraging Australians to get better informed about suicide on World Suicide Prevention Day this Friday.

People are encouraged to learn about the signs of suicidal behaviour, where people can seek help, and how to encourage a loved one to seek help.

According to SPA, 65,000 Australians attempt suicide each year, with more than 2000 taking their own lives.

SPA CEO Ryan McGlaughlin told Sydney Star Observer that awareness of issues around suicide was of particular importance to the GLBT community — a group SPA identified as high-risk last year

“We identified the GLBT community were a high-risk group — particularly in the figures around suicide attempts and self-harm,” McGlaughlin said.

“But the numbers of actual suicides in the GLBT community are sadly difficult to tell because in some cases a person’s sexuality may not be self-identified and coroners do little in terms of coding when it comes to sexual orientation which makes it difficult to compile statistics.”

Studies have found that rates of attempted suicide in the GLBT community are between 3.5 and 14 times higher than in the heterosexual community while rates of self-harm may be three or four times higher. Members of the trans community are at even higher risk.

Other speakers will include Sydney Morning Herald writer and editor Ruth Pollard, Estelle Dragun, the mother of the late Channel 10 newsreader Charmaine Dragun, and John Mendoza, the mental health expert who this year resigned as chairman of the national advisory council on mental health in frustration at the federal Government’s mental health policies.

info: Visit The SPA community forum is at Museum of Contemporary Art, 3pm, September 10.

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