A study in the Australian state of Victoria has found that gambling directly caused many suicide deaths in a span of eight years. The study was conducted by researchers from Federation University Australia.
The landmark study of data from the coroner called for “urgent calls to deal with suicide prevention.”
Researchers found that 184, or 4.2 percent, of 4,788 suicide deaths in Victoria over that eight-year period were gambling-related. Additionally, there were 5.13 direct gambling-related suicides (GRS) accounted for per one million Victorian adults. (Related: CDC report: Suicides soared to 48,183 in 2021 after two-year decline.)
At least 83 percent of GRS were significantly more likely to be disadvantaged males with family members and friends more likely to know about the deceased’s gambling than their doctors. However, data suggests that the 184 recorded GRS incidents could be a low estimate because coroners routinely do not investigate gambling and other such habits when reporting suicides.
Because of the alarming study findings, several suicide prevention advocates have urged the federal and state governments to urgently introduce significant gambling harm reforms on Sept. 12.
Adverse effects of gambling are often “invisible”
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray explained that it is known that the adverse effects of gambling are “often invisible.”
However, crucial protective factors for suicide, such as social and financial support, are often jeopardized because of the many financial harms of gambling. Murray added that this unfortunately often leaves people “vulnerable to risk factors of suicide.”
Protective factors that could prevent GRS could include actions or efforts to limit the negative impact of gambling, such as community connection. According to Carol Bennett, Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, the government can help by reframing gambling as a harmful product instead of a “recreational service.”
Bennett explained that the government must also adopt a national public health approach to preventing gambling-related suicides that is “consistent with the process of other products that involve commercial determinants of health” like alcohol, tobacco and other addictive drugs.
Lauren Levin, Financial Counselling Australia Policy and Campaigns Director, warned that the suicides have been documented in casework. Individuals come in for help and report that they are considering suicide because of the impact of their gambling.
Levin added that gambling isn’t always about the money or debt, but the loss of control. She added that gambling can occupy someone’s “headspace every hour of the day.”
Because of this, families were grieving, often without knowing the role gambling played in people’s lives because the financial data was often not included in the police and coroners’ reports.
The conservative Victorian Liberal Party agreed with the introduction of gambling harm reforms and urged the state’s ruling Labor Party-led government to “do more.” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy warned that the Victorian Labor Party must reconsider its long-term funding for gambling programs.
Kealy advised that Labor’s cuts to gambling support “couldn’t come at a worse time” amid other cost-of-living pressures mounting on Victorians and demand for mental health, alcohol and drug and gambling support increasing during these troubled times.
Keely said people struggling with gambling addiction need access to more support, not to “have these life-saving services cut.”
Despite the warnings from Keely and others, the Victorian Department of Health (VDH) insisted that there is no single cause of suicide or simple solution to prevent it.
The VDH said suicide can affect anyone, but some individuals and groups may be more at risk. “Every death tells a unique story, but each has the same underlying message for our community. We need to do more to prevent suicide,” concluded the agency.
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Watch the video below as one man talks about how his gambling addiction cost him everything.
This video is from the Stefan Molyneux channel on Brighteon.com.
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