When asked to rank their concerns from a range of issues confronting young people, ‘depression and suicide’ was ranked most frequently in the top three, by 52.6% of respondents.
Other pressing issues were ‘family issues’, ‘alcohol and other drugs’ and ‘abuse/sexual assault’, with each ranked in the top three by approximately 39% of respondents.
More than 2500 young Australians, the majority aged 12-17, completed the survey, which was conducted on-line on Mission Australia’s website, through Dolly magazine and in high schools and TAFE colleges around the country.Respondents were asked to suggest any additional issues, not listed in the survey, which caused them concern. The most commonly mentioned issue in this category was ‘body image – including anorexia, obesity, etc’, which was listed by 16.5% of respondents.
Mission Australia’s spokesperson, Claire Field, said the results showed Australia’s young people were seriously concerned about depression and suicide.
"Mission Australia’s Youth Survey shows that young people are contemplating some very serious issues at a very early age," Ms Field said.
"Of respondents to the survey, the vast majority (82.8%) were under 17.
"To some extent, these results confirm what we knew already, anecdotally, from Mission Australia’s community building work with many of Australia’s young people – from all walks of life.
"Certainly, it should be of concern to us all that young people continue to be deeply worried about depression and suicide while Australia has one of the highest rates of youth suicide.
"However, what our survey also shows is that, while young people are facing up to these issues at an early age – and see their peers confronting them too – they’re not afraid to talk about them with someone that’s close, either their friends, family or another relative, and that’s positive.
"What’s also positive is that almost two out of three respondents (64.9%), answered ‘yes’ to the question whether there is enough information available to young people on the issues of concern to them and their friends.
"Where we can do a better job, is in empowering young people, by giving them the information they need to assist their friends. As we’ve seen from our survey, when facing issues of concern, most young people go to their friends first, and their parents or family second.
"We need to make sure young people have the information they need to correctly help, or refer, friends when they are troubled or in crisis," said Ms Field.
For further information, contact: Paul Andrews on (02) 9219 2080 or 0409 665 495.
Click here to download the national survey results.