Last Friday I welcomed the shadow assistant minister for mental health and suicide prevention to my electorate. The Gold Coast is an absolutely amazing place to live but, as in other areas right across Australia, we have people of all ages who are living with mental health issues and, sadly, families who have experienced the terrible loss of a loved one to suicide. In fact, suicide has been reported as the eighth leading cause of death on the Gold Coast. The latest statistics show that 19 per cent of the Gold Coast’s population are prescribed a mental health-related medication; that’s one in every five.
Suicide Prevention Australia reports suicide rates are rising, with 30 per cent of people from middle-income households experiencing suicidal behaviour in the past 12 months. Certainly, the feedback we got at the roundtable and what I get almost every day in my electorate of McPherson on the Gold Coast is that financial pressures are adding enormously to mental health issues. There’s no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is hurting, and hurting a lot of people. Instead of reducing access to mental health services, the government needs to be doing much more. I certainly want to thank the practitioners, the service providers and the local residents who spoke with us last Friday and relayed their experiences. Your work is so important. We appreciated your insights and we will keep advocating for more support.