1 out of 5 attempted suicides is a problem gambler. We need further studies.
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There was a study conducted in 2010 referring to a screening of 898 suicidal patients at the Alfred Hospital over a 6 month period. 1 out of 5 of these people was a problem gambler. There has been no similar study since.
Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world. We are also the gambling capital of the world, spending more per capita than any other country on the planet.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age in Australia, and the second leading cause of death among those 45-54 years of age according to the Bureau of Statistics in 2015. It's the highest rate it's been in 10 years.
For many, gambling is a harmless form of entertainment. For reasons we don't yet understand, for some of us it causes enormous harm. According to the Australian Government, right now, 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers. The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. This means up to five million Australians are affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem. This is just over a quarter of our entire population.
Global studies have estimated that one in five problem gamblers attempt to kill themselves, which is about twice the rate of other addictions.
In November 2014 I lost my dad to suicide for reasons including problem gambling. I myself, also had serious gambling addiction. The reasons why some people get addicted to gambling are complex and not yet understood.
Poker machines are the most addictive form of gambling. They are commonly referred to as the ‘crack cocaine' or 'electronic morphine' of gambling. The highly addictive nature of these machines is well known by many professors, doctors, psychiatrists and neurologists. They are designed to addict. And for many of us they do, to the point where we lose everything, including for some of us, our own lives.
Aristocrat is the biggest manufacturer and supplier of poker machines in the country. Back in 2000, the company’s billionaire founder Len Ainsworth was asked by Four Corners what the secret to their success was, and he didn’t mince his words.
“Building a better mouse trap,” he said.
The gambling-related suicide epidemic in Australia is something we can attempt to fix now - before it gets much worse. This petition is to show the Victorian Mental Health Minister how important it is that attempted suicide figures are collected from all hospitals and crisis centres in Victoria to show the link to problem gambling. As detailed at the commencement of this page, the link appears very strong. These figures were successfully collected from the Alfred in 2010, and they can certainly be collected again.
Once I have as much support as possible for this petition (both electronic and physically signed petitions), I'll be approaching a lower house member to submit this request to the Legislative Assembly for consideration and approval by the Minister. I believe the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation has a responsibility to fund this study, and I believe the Minister for Mental Health has a duty to implement it.
Please sign and circulate this petition because we can begin fixing this issue now. Once we have accurate statistics we will have a powerful weapon to tackle problem gambling to protect our communities and save lives.
Please contact myself at email@example.com if I can help further.
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