Every suicide, suicide attempt and experience of suicidal distress has a significant human impact on the individual, those that care about them, and the broader community.
A public suicide, or a suicide in a public place, is the death of an individual by their own actions at a known community location or public site. All people impacted or bereaved by the death of someone in a public place deserve support. Certain public places may unintentionally offer a means or opportunity for suicide. Knowledge of incidents at these locations can have a profound impact on the community including family members, friends, colleagues, bystanders, on site employees, frontline workers and other community members. While the human impact of suicide is immeasurable, it is estimated that each suicide intimately impacts between 135 and 425 people.
Suicides in public places frequently occur at very specific locations. These locations can gain reputations, due to media attention and word-of-mouth, as locations where people take their life. This notoriety can lead to imitative acts. It is important to note that not all suicides in public locations will result in changes in behaviours at those locations. Lifeline Australia can provide support for those who are concerned about a potential location in their community. See What to do next.
What can be done to reduce suicides in public places and their impact?
Actions to prevent or reduce suicides at these locations are aimed at interrupting the suicide process to provide time for someone to receive help.
There are a range of evidence-based actions and resources that can be implemented to help reduce suicides at public places. Australian and international research has shown that the implementation of a variety of interventions at public locations has reduced suicide and allowed people to receive timely support.
Each plan or action implemented should be tailored to the unique needs of the community and the location they are focussing on.
What to do next?
Lifeline Australia can support and empower communities and organisations (including service providers and land managers) by providing knowledge and resources to assist in addressing issues related to a specific location of concern. Lifeline has a range of resources available on request to support site managers such as local governments including:
- A Site Manager Prevention and Response Toolkit
- Information on risk factors for public sites
- Suicide Data Information resource
- Suicide in public places intervention information
- Guide for Installing barriers to prevent suicides
Lifeline Australia encourages anyone who may have a concern about potential or past suicides at a public place to get in contact. Please complete the following form and Lifeline Australia will be in contact.