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Devastating impact of rising interest rates: ‘Need to act now’

A row of house on an overcast day and a middle-aged woman looking concerned to represent the impact of rising interest rates.
Rising interest rates and the cost of living is impacting Australians mental health. (Source: Getty)

Distress over housing access and affordability has grown faster than any other cause of distress over the past three months, according to new research.

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) research found Aussies who were “middle age and middle wage” were increasingly feeling the sting as the cost of living and rising personal debt continued to pose the biggest threat to Aussies’ mental health and suicide rates.

The findings coincided with more than one in three (38 per cent) Australians saying they knew someone in their personal life or networks, who died by or attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

The shocking statistic is a 7 per cent increase from August, which was at 31 per cent.

SPA called on the Albanese Government for an urgent relief package to respond to increased rates of distress and risks of suicide.

A distress-relief package would include:

  • Fast-tracked delivery of recent commitments to suicide-prevention services

  • Additional support for those most at risk of suicide

  • Extended access to COVID-19 mental health supports such as Medicare’s funded mental health sessions

  • Strengthened investment in protective supports such as raising income-support payments

  • Whole-of-government accountability through a national Suicide Prevention Act

“It’s clear from this data that suicide does not discriminate. Sadly, it too often touches a significant number of Australians in all corners of our community,” Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said.

“It also reiterates the importance of the Government focusing on improving housing supply and affordability, as this is clearly causing many Australians elevated distress.”

Murray said that, despite the worrying figures, many Australians were reaching out for help when they needed it.

“We know 88 per cent of frontline suicide-prevention services experienced increased demand the past 12 months. Australians are heeding the call to seek help,” he said.

“It’s therefore important that we are able to provide timely support when and where they need it most. A ‘relief package’ will help our members do this.”

Murray said the findings of the report proved a clear link between the impact of rising economic and social pressures and distress levels in the community.

“Research shows suicide rates can peak two to three years after a crisis. We need to act now to address increasing rates of distress and respond to the risk of increasing suicide rates in our community,” Murray said.

“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and the impact spreads across families, schools, workplaces, sporting clubs and community groups. For those feeling distress, help is available and it’s important to reach out and seek support.”

To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.

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