Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there was no rise in the number of Victorians dying this year due to suicide.
State Coroner John Cain released fresh statistics on the number of suicide deaths between January 1 and August 26 on Thursday, showing two fewer suicides occurred in Victoria compared to the same time last year.
From 1 January till 26 August, 466 Victorians took their own lives. That was largely consistent with last year’s same era, when 468 victorians died as a result of suicide, and 2018, when 461 victorians took their own lives. The figures are higher than in 2016, when 420 suicides were committed.
Of the 466 Victorians who died this year, 350 were men, most of them men aged 22-55.
The findings contradict widespread assumptions that this year, under pressure from COVID-19 lockdowns, pandemic anxiety, work losses and financial instability, the number of suicides has been far higher.
Modeling from the Brain and Mind Center at the University of Sydney in May projected a 25 percent rise in the number of suicides during the pandemic could occur.
During the current shutdown, a viral Facebook post reported suicide rates were up 200 percent despite alerts from mental health advocates about increases in requests for mental health assistance.
“There is clearly growing awareness and community concern regarding mental health and suicide – and everyone should have access to the facts,” Judge Cain said.
“While it is encouraging to see there has not been an increase in suicides to date, our focus is to prevent all suicide deaths and see the figures go down.
“Open, transparent discussions are critical to reducing suicides, but must be handled with care.”
While not all of the suicide statistics published on Thursday were subject to investigations, the Coroners Court said that changes to the list are usually minor following an investigation, and those initial findings are more than 95 percent accurate.