Homeless youths from Melbourne’s East at higher than average risk of suicide

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Disenfranchised young people in Melbourne’s outer Eastern region are at higher than average risk of committing suicide than other Melbourne teenagers according to the results of a survey to be launched today.

Researchers from Deakin University will discuss their findings at the 40th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society hosted in Melbourne.

The study surveyed 200 homeless youths aged 18-25 years to establish the extent of their mental health problems. The research points to strategies for developing more relevant services to support youths identified as at high risk of suicide.

Commenting on their findings, the researchers said, “There is a real need to explore innovative ways of engaging with disenfranchised youths. We need to provide them with practical psychological strategies for coping with distress and trauma.

“Our study identified a raft of common experiences such as drug use, childhood abuse and emotional instability in the home as highly stressful experiences which can lead to chronic depression, homelessness and ultimately, suicide.

“Suicide amongst homeless youths is more than just a statistical phenomenon. We need to acknowledge that these kids are important and they deserve our help.

“We have a social obligation to provide them with appropriate support and not just ignore their plight. As psychologists, this means identifying the most practical and appropriate mental health services which will equip young people with the skills to manage their emotional well-being.”

Psychologist Helen Mildred is available for interview on her research from Deakin University, which will be presented on Friday 30 September during the 40th annual conference of the Australian Psychological Society (Melbourne: 28 Sept – 2 Oct).

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For further information or to arrange an interview: Contact Elaine Grant 0412 683 068.

The 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference, from 28 September- 2 October at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Australia.

Themed Past Reflections, Future Directions, the five-day program includes international scholars and psychologists, interactive workshops, themed days and streams provided by APS Colleges and Divisions, research papers and symposia and fora.