26 September 2023

Coroner troubled as death stats go up

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Victoria recorded its highest number of annual suicides last year according to figures compiled by the Coroners Court of Victoria.

Releasing the Coroners Court Monthly Suicide Data Report – December 2022, Victorian State Coroner, Judge John Cain said the concerning figures were the highest number of annual suicides since the Court started collecting suicide data in 2000, and a nine per cent increase in suicides compared to 2021.

“It is troubling to see an increase in suicides emerge in the last few months of 2022,” Judge Cain said.

“It is not clear what is driving this increase – especially amongst those 65 and over – but we are monitoring closely to see if this trend continues,” he said.

“Access to support is a vital part of suicide prevention.

“Suicide is complex and requires a multifaceted approach to minimise harm – sharing Court data helps to support this work across Government, the prevention sector and the community.”

Judge Cain said the increase in 2022 was in contrast to the preceding four years, which had seen a plateau in suicide numbers.

Most notably, he said the increase appeared to have occurred in the latter part of 2022.

“From January to July the monthly number of suicides in Victoria had been consistent with previous years – approximately 58 suicides per month,” the Coroner said.

“However, from August to December the monthly number of suicides increased to 65 or more per month,” he said.

“From reviewing the full year data, the Court considers that the higher numbers during August to December 2022 might signal an emerging trend.”

Judge Cain said analysis also showed that the most substantial increase last year was seen in the 65 years and older cohort, with a 32 per cent increase from 2021 to 2022.

He said there was an eight per cent increase among males, and a 12 per cent increase among females.

Judge Cain said a majority of the suicides that occurred in 2022 were still being investigated by coroners to understand the complex drivers contributing to these deaths and opportunities for prevention.

The Coroner’s five-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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