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The gap remains: NHMRC research funding for suicide and self-harm, 2000–2014

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To the Editor: In an article on National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding for the National Health Priority Areas, Christensen and colleagues concluded that there was no narrowing of the gap in the proportion of funding provided to mental health research from 2001 to 2010.1 In particular, NHMRC funding per disability-adjusted life-year was the lowest for suicide and self-harm in comparison with other mental health categories and did not increase over 2001–2009.

Analysis of NHMRC research funding for suicide and self-harm in comparison with other causes of high morbidity and mortality in Australia from 2000 to 2014 does not indicate that much progress has been made, and the gap still remains. Intentional self-injury in Australia ranked higher as the leading cause of death in 2013 than did skin cancers and accidental falls (14th, 16th and 18th leading cause, respectively).2 In 2013, suicide claimed more lives (2520) than either skin cancers (2209), accidental falls (1920) or transport accidents (1428); and the standardised suicide rate considerably exceeded mortality rates for these causes of death (10.7 compared with 8.3, 6.7 and 6.0 per 100 000 population, respectively).2 Yet NHMRC research funding for suicide and self-harm from 2000 to 2014 was lower than that for all skin cancers, falls and…