Alarm over in­dige­nous sui­cide

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

■ A lead­ing re­searcher into in­dige­nous men­tal health at the Univer­sity of WA has used World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day to call for united ac­tion to re­duce Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der sui­cide rates, which re­main among the high­est in the world.

Pro­fes­sor Pat Dud­geon and Pro­fes­sor Tom Calma run the Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Sui­cide Preven­tion Eval­u­a­tion Pro­ject, based at the univer­sity.

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Dud­geon, sui­cide is the lead­ing cause of death in the 15 to 35 age group among Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­ders.

He said sui­cide rates were dou­ble that of non-in­dige­nous peo­ple, ac­count­ing for one in 19 deaths.

“This is a na­tional cri­sis and strong and im­me­di­ate ac­tion is needed, such as a na­tional in­quiry,” he said.

“How­ever, an in­quiry or royal com­mis­sion should not pause or de­lay ini­tia­tives that are al­ready in place, or are about to be put in place.”

ATSISPEP, funded by the Prime Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net and with part­ners in­clud­ing the Telethon Kids In­sti­tute WA and The Heal­ing Foun­da­tion, is trav­el­ling around Aus­tralia con­ven­ing re­gional round­tables to ac­com­pany a re­port to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

Bunuba Gija woman Adele Cox, who fa­cil­i­tated the round­tables from the Kim­ber­ley, said many Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der com­mu­ni­ties be­lieved sui­cide was nor­mal.

“Things must change at gov­ern­ment level, as well as at com­mu­nity level so that we sup­port our kids, our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ties to change these at­ti­tudes and these be­hav­iours,” she said.

Tom Price-based Ap­plied Sui­cide In­ter­ven­tion Skills trainer Mar­ian Hearne wel­comed ATSISPEP’s work on in­dige­nous sui­cide but said the is­sue af­fected the whole com­mu­nity.

“Sui­cide can strike any­where, in the most un­likely of cir­cum­stances ... even the most seem­ingly happy and strong peo­ple can ex­pe­ri­ence sui­ci­dal thoughts,” she said.

World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day was recog­nised on Thurs­day, Septem­ber 10, to co­in­cide with R U OK? Day in Aus­tralia.

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