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Suicide Touches 57pc Of Youth

MORE more than half of Australia's youth has been touched by suicide.
An alarming 57 per cent of those surveyed in the Australian Democrats' annual poll of 15 to 20-year-olds knew a young person who had attempted or committed suicide.
Speaking about Youth Poll 2005 yesterday at St Michael's College, Democrat Senator Natasha Stott Despoja encouraged the Federal Government to examine the survey results.
"I think with issues like suicide prevention it's incredibly important that we talk to the young people who are affected," she said.
"You can't ignore these statistics," she said.
The survey also found that 64 per cent of respondents rated family matters, such as divorce and separation, as the issues that concerned them most, that 65 per cent would be discouraged from attending university if the proposed 25 per cent increase in HECS fees was introduced, and that 60 per cent opposed mandatory detention of asylum seekers.
Senator Stott Despoja said it was clear young people's views were often patronised, trivialised and ignored, particularly by politicians and government.
"This is a chance to give young people a say, but also to use the results to impact on policy," she said.
"An interesting result is the increase in the number of young people who oppose mandatory detention for asylum seekers.
"It is also clear that young people obviously care about their families, no matter how they are defined."
James Cibich and Lisa Georgiou, both 16, were two of the students who attended the release of survey results at St Michael's yesterday.
James said the poll was an important vehicle for the opinions of youth.
Lisa said education had contributed to 87 per cent of young people surveyed not smoking.
"I think the advertising campaigns are actually working, although they show some pretty disturbing images," she said.
"Young people are definitely more aware of the harmful effects of smoking and are doing it much less."
Both Year 11 students agreed that offering communication pathways for students was vital to address the youth suicide trend highlighted in the survey.
"There is a tendency among teenagers not to talk to anyone about these things," Mr Cibich said. "Better training of young people would be good, so that they know how to advise friends if they come to them with a serious problem."

AAP (30-8-2005)
Rob Greenwood

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