Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Less Kids Killing Themselves? Media Not Interested

This is probably the best piece of Australian news you'll hear today, or this month, and you can think the internet for at least of this good news :

During the past decade the suicide rate among young Australians has almost halved.

It is an extraordinary public health achievement, but one which has received little publicity.

Experts say a massive public education campaign and improvement in the treatment of depression are the key reasons for the success.

Here's how the rise of internet usage amongst teenagers added to the suicides averted :

The Reach Out website now gets 130,000 visits per month from young people.

The website's managers say being online is a big advantage.

"For a young person who suspects things are not OK, they might not know who to turn to or be afraid to talk to someone about it because they are afraid they will be judged," project manager Anna McKenzie said.

"So to be able to simply go online, Google something and have a look without anyone needing to know, that's really invaluable and that's what a lot of young people are doing at Reachout."

The Reach Out website was set up 10 years ago when Australia had one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the western world.

John Howard's decision to tighten gun laws in 1996 is also getting some of the credit, along with better methods of treating depression :

"After the new gun laws were introduced, the rate of gun suicide dropped twice as fast," Sydney University's associate professor Philip Alpers said.

"If you reduce the availability of firearms, especially to impulsive young men, then the number of people dying by gunshot reduces."

Less kids are killing themselves, for a variety of reasons, but the desire to end your life before you end high school appears to still be widespread, with less follow through, however :

"We've just had a national survey of mental health in Australia, rates of illness are as high as they ever were," Professor Hickie said.

"The good thing is that rates of suicide have gone down so we haven't yet dealt with the underlying problem, but we have got better at dealing with one of the worst outcomes."

Here's a damn good piece of news about Australian youth that should hit all the front pages and lead every evening news broadcast. It won't.

What an opportunity for the crumbling Australian mainstream media to put to death the gruesome lie that if "If It Bleeds, It Must Lead" that has so orientated so many journalists to believe that Nobody Wants To Hear Good News.

Turn the fact that the Australian youth suicide rate has HALVED in only ten years into the same kind of surreally hyped headline grabber as the average celebrity-related non-event and see what happens. See how the readers react.

The media may be surprised at just how many people want to hear good news, these days.

It certainly makes a pleasant change.

The Full Story Is Here