MURRAY MP Helen Dalton has accused the NSW Government of ignoring high rural suicide rates in a parliamentary speech last week.
The local member presented to parliament and raised questions as to why nobody is talking about the epidemic which has claimed countless lives over the past decade.
"We get updates every morning on the number of COVID-19 deaths, but the NSW Government can't even give me basic data on the number of suicides occurring in my region this past year," Mrs Dalton said.
"I asked the Health Minister how many suicides have occurred in the Murrumbidgee region between November 1, 2019 and June 17, 2020. He refused to answer the question.
"I know this is an epidemic because every week I receive a call from a distraught parent, husband, wife or sibling almost every week."
According to NSW Health, the Murrumbidgee region had the highest suicide rate in 2017, and the second highest in 2018.
"But we have the fewest health services," Mrs Dalton said.
"Not one hospital in the entire Murray electorate has an inpatient mental health unit, not one.
"That's an area of 107,000 square km that stretches all the way from the South Australian border to the Riverina.
"Why don't the National Party jump up and down about that?"
Mrs Dalton said she would like to see a community campaign to ensure the new Griffith Base Hospital includes a mental health unit.
"The NSW Government says Wagga can service all our needs," Mrs Dalton said.
"That's rubbish. When you're on the verge of killing yourself, you can't travel two to three hours for help."
NSW Labor recently announced an Upper House inquiry into the state of rural health, following coverage of the issue on 60 Minutes.
"This is absolutely necessary," Mrs Dalton said.
"I'll be providing them with as much information as I can."
If you or someone you know are going through mental distress, please reach out and talk to someone:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
- Griffith Suicide Prevention and Support Group: 1300 133 911