Alan Woodward, the executive director of Lifeline Australia, wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian about target setting in relation to suicide prevention. He asks, “What is the ‘right’ suicide prevention target? Does a target of 50% imply acceptance that in Australia 1300 people will die by suicide each year?”
He reported that suicide is the leading cause of premature death in Australia, with a median age of 44.5 years.
“We should never discount the value of these lives – real people now sadly missed”, he writes.
“Possibly the best target to set is one of zero tolerance – the target should be “zero” deaths and attempts of suicide.
“We should not admit to tolerating any loss of life to suicide, nor should we neglect to provide the very best compassion, support and recovery care for those who come to the dark place which suggests death is better than living. All our effort, our programs, our government suicide prevention strategies, our community action should then be measured up against the contribution made towards this target. Our measurement systems then could be associated with celebrating each and every step towards the end result.
“Such a stance would reflect the comment from Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, when introducing the international report on suicide: ‘Every single life lost to suicide is one too many.’”