Youth Focus praises “yes” vote on same-sex marriage

Youth Focus has welcomed today’s overwhelming “YES” vote for marriage equality in Australia, saying the result will play a role in reducing the risk of suicide in the community.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released results of the national postal survey on same-sex marriage this morning at 7am (WDST), revealing that 61.6% of clear responses had voted “yes” to marriage equality, while 38.4% recorded a clear “no” vote. A total of 79.5% of eligible Australian voters took part in the survey.

Youth Focus General Manager of Community Engagement Chris Harris said the result was a positive outcome that would help reduce discrimination against Australia’s LGBTIQ community.

“There is no shadow of a doubt that legalising same-sex marriage will go some way to reducing suicide rates in this group,” Mr Harris said.

“Any legislation that promotes a sense of belonging and negates a sense of devaluing certain groups in our community is a protective measure that can reduce suicide.

“This outcome will serve to promote social development and social protectors in our community and is, not the least, a fair decision that aligns with basic human rights values.”

In WA, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25. Of the 371 people who died in WA after taking their own lives, 54 were young people aged between 15 and 24.

Research shows that same-sex attracted people are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition and five times more likely to make a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers.

“Like many other mental health services in Australia, Youth Focus has been concerned about the negative health impacts caused by discrimination against LGBTIQ people,” Mr Harris said.

“For some young people the debate about same-sex marriage has been an emotional process, with reports of young people being exposed to judgement and personal attacks about their sexuality, as well as confusion and anxiety.

“Suicide is the most preventable cause of death in young people and it is not acceptable that any young person believes that ending their life is a preferred choice.

“Laws that promote equality and make members of the community feel positive and valued are a protective factor against suicide.

“As an organisation that is dedicated to creating brighter futures for all young people, Youth Focus is pleased with this outcome.”

In September, five leading youth mental health organisations released collaborative research showing that up to 3000 youth suicide attempts could be averted each year with a “YES” vote for marriage equality.

The #mindthefacts campaign was a collaboration between the Black Dog Institute, headspace, ReachOut, Brain and Mind Centre at University of Sydney and Orygen, the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health. Youth Focus is the lead agency for four headspace centres in Western Australia: Albany, Geraldton and Midland; and the Midland Youth Early Psychosis Program.

In the year to June, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

Youth Focus is an independent Western Australian not-for-profit working to reduce youth suicide. Through free, unlimited face-to-face individual counselling sessions and other valuable mental health services, Youth Focus works with young people aged from 12 to 25 helping them to overcome issues associated with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

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