Teen death sparks troll attack
URGENT calls for Sunshine Coast youth crisis centres have followed the revelation that a 14-year-old girl committed suicide at Caloundra this week.
Tribute pages on social networking site Facebook followed the teenager's death.
However, by yesterday they had been trashed by trolls, who added offensive comments and pictures.
The girl's friends wrote on Facebook that she was bullied online while she was a student at a Sydney school before her family moved to the Sunshine Coast earlier this year.
Yesterday was the start of a two-day mental health summit at Caloundra, in which leading national expert Professor Ian Hickie called for urgent action to curb the growing suicide rate among youths.
The Sunshine Coast has had the most suicides in Queensland in the first five months of this year.
Twenty-four people have taken their lives in the region this year, compared with 18 on the Gold Coast, 13 in Ipswich, and 12 in South Brisbane.
Prof Hickie said there needed to be easier access to treatments for mental health issues, from family GPs to specialised services like Headspace, a national youth mental health foundation that helps young people going through a hard time.
Despite the troubling rate of suicide on the Coast and the pleas for a Headspace facility, one has still not been established in the region.
Prof Hickie, from the University of Sydney, is part of the Federal Government's National Advisory Council on Mental Health.
"Suicide in young people and in young adults is one of the leading causes of death in Australia," Prof Hickie said. "We need to be open and clear in our messages about preventing suicide.
"We need to discuss a lot ... that we can make a difference.
"Suicide is highly preventable - it is not inevitable."
In the first half of the year, more than 200 Queenslanders committed suicide. At the same time, the state's road toll last year was 249.
Prof Hickie said the same preventable approach to fatal traffic crashes had to be applied to suicides.
The biggest driver of suicidal behaviour was undetected mental health problems, made worse by alcohol and drugs, he said.
"When you get that combination of factors, the chances of someone being actively suicidal increase." Prof Hickie said all levels of government and their related health systems had "let us down".
He said a new model of health care was desperately needed, with more attention on mental health.
"(The State Government) needs to support decent mental health services on the Coast," he said.
Prof Hickie said the Australian public ranked mental health as its third top priority behind climate change and the economy.
The same attention devoted to debating a carbon tax needed to be given to highlighting mental health issues, he said.
Prof Hickie said if parents thought their children were suicidal, "then the time for action is now".
"It's not to just hope it goes away or wait to see what happens when they leave school or maybe they're in trouble with a girlfriend or boyfriend," he said.
"Take serious action now.
"Teenage kids need parents and friends to take serious action to help them."
Help can be found at the family GP, a mental health service or even on websites about mental health.
Anyone needing support or information about suicide prevention should contact Lifeline on 131114 and for those affected by suicide, please contact StandBy Response Service on 0407766961
70,000 - People living on the Sunshine Coast managing a mental illness
14 - The percentage of Australians under 17 who have have mental health problems
24 - How many suicides in the Sunshine Coast region from January to May this year