A suicide prevention worker has applauded the State Government’s three-month gun amnesty which he believes will help reduce the instances of people taking their own lives by using firearms.
A suicide prevention worker has applauded the State Government’s three-month gun amnesty which he believes will help reduce the instances of people taking their own lives by using firearms. Tom Threadingham

Suicide worker applauds gun amnesty

A SUICIDE prevention worker has applauded the State Government's three-month gun amnesty which he believes will help reduce the instances of people taking their own lives by using firearms.

The amnesty, which wrapped up yesterday, resulted in 800 firearms being surrendered to police stations in the North Coast region - which runs from the Sunshine Coast to Bundaberg - and a total of 5500 handed in to authorised gun dealers across the state.

A 2010 Medical Journal of Australia analysis shows there was a decline in rates of suicide by shooting during the period between 1988-2007. This was when Australia introduced one of the world's first national suicide prevention strategies - a gun buy-back scheme in 1997 - soon after the Port Arthur massacre.

UnitingCare Community counsellor Alex Johnson said suicide was the biggest killer of men under the age of 44 and women under the age of 35.

"Suicide is still highly stigmatised," he said.

"Rates of suicide in country areas are higher because people have more access to lethal means."

Mr Johnson said there was a correlation between having fewer guns and fewer suicides by firearms.

"There is a lot of research that shows that," he said.

Mr Johnson said there were not enough resources in the community to provide support for people who were suicidal or suffering from a mental illness, but steps such as gun amnesties were a step in the right direction.

"The less guns that are out there, it's less available means," he said.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said he hoped the amnesty could also contribute to a reduction in firearm-related incidents.

"The aim of the amnesty was to see as many unregistered weapons as possible either registered or destroyed and to ensure law-abiding people do not get caught under the tough new penalty system," he said.

If you are suffering from emotional difficulties, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36.


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