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Classes to counter suicide

Schools here have been urged to run suicide prevention classes as a way of giving teenagers the skills to deal with their problems.

The head of a government committee on suicide prevention, Professor Pierre Baume, called on schools to act and become part of a national strategy to reduce Australia's high youth suicide rate According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, students are twice as likely to kill themselves today than they were a decade ago. Of the 22,000 Australians who committed suicide over the past 10 years, almost one in five were in their teens: more than double the proportion in the early 1980s.

As chair of a working party on suicide prevention with the National Health and Medical Research Council, Professor Baume is preparing a draft report.

Special classes in schools were one option, but Professor Baume also said that debriefing and counselling of teachers and students should take place anyway when a school child committed suicide.

The president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, Professor David Lester, recently visited Australia. He said peer counsellors, specially-trained teenagers, could be effective because students were more likely to seek help from someone of the same age and background.

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