6. Oct, 2016

Suicide Prevention Focus For Mental Health Week

Suicide Prevention

Starting Saturday, 8 October, this year’s Mental Health Week is again using the ‘Act-Belong-Commit’ message with a focus on suicide prevention as its official theme. Surprisingly the people at greatest risk of suicide have been overlooked.

 

  • Calls to address this crisis have been ignored.
  • Let me share one of many news articles just to bring this matter to your attention

 

Government urged to address 'epidemic' Indigenous suicide rates in remote Australia

By Natasha Robinson and retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-05/calls-for-government-to-address-indigenous-suicide/7380448

PHOTO: The indigenous suicide crisis is most acute in WA's remote Kimberley region. (ABC News: James Dunlevie)

Aboriginal communities across the nation are calling on the Federal Government to urgently address what they describe as an "epidemic" of Indigenous suicides in remote Australia.

Key points:

  • Expert says suicide rates in the Kimberley doubled in the past five years
  • Says delay in spending funds earmarked for indigenous suicide prevention "unacceptable"
  • Conference in Alice Springs to brainstorm solutions to problem

The crisis is most acute in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, where a 10-year-old girl recently hung herself.

Indigenous leaders there say the Federal Government must act now to prevent further deaths.

The call comes as the first-ever National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference begins tonight in Alice Springs.

Aboriginal people and health workers will travel from across Australia to attend the conference in the wake of escalating Indigenous suicide rates, particularly over the past five years.

The Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project, chaired by West Australian academic Pat Dudgeon and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Tom Calma, has been mapping suicide rates.

Mr Calma said suicide rates in remote Australia could be described as an epidemic.

He said there had been a doubling of Indigenous suicide rates in the Kimberley during the past five years, and that the problem was larger than official statistics suggested because many deaths were never reported to the coroner.

He said that although the Government was preparing to implement a national suicide prevention strategy after July, there had been an unacceptable three-year delay in spending $17.8 million in funds earmarked for Indigenous suicide prevention.

"We can't continually have these significant health issues become political footballs," Mr Calma said.

"It's disappointing. The whole of Indigenous affairs is continually challenged by a lack of consistent policy direction and funding. And that's due to ministers and bureaucrats procrastinating.

"What we need in Indigenous affairs is good, bipartisan agreement on a way forward, and then we need to have a consistent policy approach and funding approach."

Immediate action needed in Kimberley: Morris

Wes Morris is the coordinator of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, which played an instrumental role in the establishment of a landmark coronial inquiry into a string of suicides in the Kimberley in 2007.

But with suicide rates in the Kimberley now higher than they were in 2007, Mr Morris is calling for action.

"As bad as the suicide rate was back in 2007, it is twice as bad today," he said.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Later this year, a report by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project will be published following two years of policy work by Indigenous leaders.

Mr Morris said while he was looking forward to the publication of the report, action needed to be taken immediately.