Daniel Williams

New Research Finds Problem Gambling as Contributing Factor to 184 Suicide Cases in Victoria

A new landmark study has revealed that problem gambling has contributed to 184 suicides in the state of Victoria over the eight-year period from 2009 to 2016. The study suggests that coroners could take into consideration whether there might be ways to improve the collection of information regarding gambling contexts associated with state- and nationwide suicides.

The National Suicide Prevention Research Fund, which is currently operated on behalf of the Federal Government by Suicide Prevention Australia, was the body that provided the funding for the research. The latter was published in the Lancet Regional Health Journal and was headed by Federation University’s Dr Angela Rintoul. According to the study, the vast majority of gambling addiction-related suicide cases involved men aged between 17 and 44 years. The report also calls for the competent authorities to suspend gambling adverts as a measure to protect vulnerable people, by reinforcing the recommendations made as a result of a gambling-focused parliamentary inquiry that are currently being taken into consideration by Australia’s Federal Government.

Dr Rintoul shared that the research she headed found that the number of problem gambling-related suicides could be higher as gambling was not among the usually investigated issues by coroners and oftentimes remained hidden from the victim’s family members and health professionals.

According to Dr Rintoul, the number of gambling-related suicides has likely increased since 2016 because of the negative effects that the Covid-19 pandemic had on people’s physical and mental health. At the same time, online gambling rates in the state also increased, along with stress associated with the pressure linked to residents’ living costs.

Gambling-Related Harm Could Push Financially Disadvantaged Individuals to Suicide, Study States

The aforementioned study also found that suicides in the state of Victoria were significantly more likely to occur among more vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals. The report noted there is currently a higher concentration of pokies in poorer communities across the state, with the study indicating that the lack of effective regulation of gambling could result in really unlucky outcomes not only for people who take high risk when gambling but also for the members of their families and local communities.

In the course of the study, the team of researchers assessed coroner’s court case information including keywords such as “gambling”, “betting”, “wagering”, “casino”, “pokies”, “SportsBet”, and “TAB”, before eventually making a judgement whether the suicides in question were associated with gambling issues.

The group that has basically provided the funding for the study – Suicide Prevention Australia – noted that the report demonstrated how important it was for local lawmakers to consider the recommendations regarding the gambling industry. The CEO of the group, Nieves Murray, further shared that gambling-related harm often remains hidden from society, and protective factors for suicide were currently compromised by the financial harm of gambling, which usually leaves financially struggling individuals at risk of taking their lives.

Carol Bennett, the chief executive officer of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, also noted how urgent and important it was for lawmakers and regulators to make sure that gambling is regulated like a public health issue rather than a form of entertainment. According to her, a national public health approach aimed at the prevention of gambling-related deaths needs to be adopted as soon as possible to effectively protect the most vulnerable members of society.

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.

Daniel Williams

Author: Jerry Lewis