Youth depression, suicide at high level

Wednesday, October 23, 1991

Youth depression, suicide at high level

By Grace Minton

PERTH — An alarming suicide rate and the level of severe depression amongst Western Australian young people are the subjects of two new health reports.

One study found that more than three in 1000 people aged between 15 and 25 had attempted suicide. The attempts peaked at ages 19 for women and 17 for men.

The report is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia. Completed in July, it is not yet publicly available. It found that family stress and conflict were probably the major factors underlying suicidal behaviour among young people. Forty-nine per cent of repeated attempts were amongst those living at home with their parents, the majority of these from a middle-class background.

A second report, released this month at the Behavioural Medicine Conference in Sydney, stated that one in 12 WA teenagers revealed symptoms of severe depression. Based on a survey of 1815 young people attending three Perth secondary schools, it found the most likely to be depressed were 17-year-old girls from a working-class background.

A community nurse involved in research, Barbara MacLeod, urged school nurses to be more conscious of the signs of severe depression, and asked that school psychologists concentrate more on emotional problems than career counselling.

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