Despite the standout work of various individuals, our Governments have failed to respond to the catastrophic humanitarian crisis sweeping this nation, that is taking the lives of children, young adults, of human beings denied the sense of hope that the majority of Australians enjoy. The statistical narrative is startling and indicts the nation but there continues an effective silence. Our governments have normalised inequality and injustices.

  • One in 19 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths are registered as suicide. This is an abomination, moral, political and otherwise.
  • However because of underreporting issues the statistical narrative is indeed much worse. I estimate it is one in 10 to one in 12. This is an abomination, moral, political and otherwise.
  • If you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged 15 to 35 years, one in three deaths in this age group will be registered as suicide. Suicide is this age group’s leading cause of death.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Islander children aged 14 years and less are 8 times more likely to suicide than non-Aboriginal children. Suicide is this age group’s second leading cause of death. In some regions this rate is up to 30 times. An indictment of our Governments.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of the Kimberley and far north Queensland endure the nation’s highest suicide rates – up to 8 times the overall national trend and near double the world’s highest national trends. A climate of death – premature and unnatural.
  • Another staggering statistical narrative – no less than one in 10 and possibly up to one in 6 of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living have been to jail. This is nothing less than racialised imprisonment.
  • In Western Australia, one in 13 Aboriginal adult males is in prison today – from a racialised lens, the world’s highest jailing rate.
  • Nearly 7 per cent of the Kimberley lives in some form of homelessness. Nearly all of this homelessness is comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Therefore around 12 to 13 per cent of the region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are in some form of homelessness – about one in 8 persons. Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy and per capita one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
  • More than 7 per cent of the Northern Territory lives in some form of homelessness. Nearly all of this homelessness is comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Therefore around one in eight are homeless. Outside of natural disasters and civil strife this is among one of the world’s worst homelessness rates.

As long as Australian Governments fail to respond to these crises and fail to respond comprehensively, they are responsible for the suicides, the familial and community distresses. While this narrative of human misery and suffering, this narrative of death continues – and it will worsen – then there is no ‘closing the gap’. Of all the world’s middle and high income nations with relatively recent colonial oppressor histories, Australia has the widest divide between its First Peoples and the rest of the population. It cannot be argued that there is any legitimate closing of the gap when more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are being jailed than ever before, when there are so many suicides.

There are many of us doing what needs to be done but more of us need to be involved – particularly our Governments and their instruments. The ways forward are not rocket science, but the political will is an obstinate one which has denied the ways forward, abominably. In the end, I rest tired but remain in the understanding that we must improve the lot of others and remove the barriers that deny equalities. Our days under this sun will pass within the flicker that we are caught within, our time cast to the ages, done to the eons that distance from the here and now but while we are within this flicker, there is no greater legacy than to help one another, to improve the lot of others, to save lives. All lives matter.

 

Suicide – a catastrophic humanitarian crisis

–          ABC News 24, September 5, 2015 – Miriam Corowa and Andrew Geoghegan interview Gerry Georgatos on the suicide crisis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One in 3 deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 to 35 years is registered as a suicide. This is the world’s highest such rate.

Suicide - a catastrophic humanitarian crisis

 

Declaration of impartiality conflict: The author of this article, Gerry Georgatos, is a suicide prevention researcher with various national and other projects and is also a community consultant with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP).

 

Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline, 13 11 14

Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636

 

Other articles and media on the suicide crisis and suicide prevention by Gerry Georgatos:

It is not like me to cry

Call for a national inquiry

Catastrophic suicide crisis will escalate “unless”…

One in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been to jail

An eleven year old suicides – nine months later his mother takes her life

Understanding the abominable jail and suicide rates

The issue of our time – 1 in 3 deaths by suicide

When the right people lead then lives will be saved

Truth, not lies on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention rates

A moral abomination – a narrative that is racialised; of human suffering and misery

Plato said engage with our politicians or risk being governed by the dumb – the suicide crises

Stop selling resilience 

Another misguided reductionist plan to reduce rates of suicide self-harm

The leading cause of death – for 15 to 44 year old Australians – is suicide | The Stringer

People strengthening people focus on suicide prevention

Understanding difference and unfairness is a first step in suicide prevention | The Stringer

Taboo, stigma and shame need to get out of the way for suicide prevention | The Stringer

Suicide is heading to a humanitarian crisis – it is a leading cause of death | The Stringer

Suicides are preventable – here is what we must begin to do | The Stringer

The extensiveness of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander suicides – 1 in 20 | The Stringer

Preventing suicide – “no greater legacy” | The Stringer

Understanding Australia’s suicide crises

Shame job Australia – they came through the gate with my boy’s body 

Suicides, high among overseas born and second generation Australians

Child suicidal ideation on the increase

It is racism killing our people – suicides born of racism

Kimberley suicide rate – one of the world’s highest – Yiriman is the way to go

My Country – But look how I am forced to live

What will it take to end Aboriginal disadvantage, the inequalities and the various crises?

What sort of Australia is this? Seven homeless children in an asbestos slum

Six homeless children fighting for a better tomorrow

Quality of life for Australians 2nd only to Norway but for Aboriginal Peoples 122nd

Dumbartung convenes suicide crisis summit

Suicide attempts among women on the rise

Australia’s Aboriginal children detained at the world’s highest rates

Culture should not be denied – change needs unfolding, not impost

Everyone in the Territory doing well, except for Aboriginal Peoples

Australia’s Aboriginal children, the world’s highest suicide rate

Wes Morris slams government suicide prevention programs

How many more suicides will it take? How many more deaths?

Hopelessness in suicide riddled communities

More government neglect of Aboriginal children

In identity lay the answers – ATSI suicides

$25.4 billion spent on Aboriginal disadvantage is a lie

Beagle Bay to State Parliament – Farrer speaks out on suicides

Government to address Aboriginal suicides

Empowerment

996 Aboriginal deaths by suicide – another shameful Australian record

996 deaths by suicide – one in 24 die by suicide

Australia’s Aboriginal suicide epidemic – whose child will be the next to die?

77 Aboriginal suicides in South Australia alone

Kimberley’s Aboriginal peoples old at 45 years

Australia, the mother of all jailers of Aboriginal people

Close the gap failed

Despite what’s being reported, life expectancy not improving for ATSI peoples – 1 in 3 dead by 45 years of age

Tumult of death – 400 suicides in last three years

30 suicides in the last three months as we wait for promises to be kept

Suicide crisis – genocidal numbers

Suicide crisis – from tragic to catastrophic

Suicide crisis needs real funding and actions

Hundreds more will suicide if we wait for 2015

Nothing will be done about suicides crisis

Scullion bent on saving lives

Elders across Australia say governments need to listen to them on how to address youth suicide

Suicides – western society and ancient cultures clash

If we are serious about suicide prevention

Australia’s suicide crisis should not be played down – the media must highlight it

From my father’s death bed to the must-do to end the suicides

Governments promise on ending suicides must come good now

More confirmation of what everyone knows, was suicide prevention inadequate

The must-do need to listen and trust if suicides crisis is to end

Working together – mental health and suicide prevention roundtable

Break the taboo around suicides, we reduce suicides

Suicide crises born of Australia’s inhumanity

Suicides – children

Suicides crisis linked to incarceration

Wes Morris urges funding for cultural methodologies

The betrayal of our children – the Northern Territory

New project offers hope to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides

Depression and suicide prevention must be top of the agenda this century

World Suicide Prevention Day – suicide takes more lives than war

Western Australia – 1 in 13 in a jail, a bullshit state of affairs

Forgotten children of the promised land – the fight to save rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Yiriman saving lives in the midst of the Kimberley’s suicide crises

Healing Halls Creek

The smaller a community, the less likely a suicide

Overcoming disadvantage report shows disadvantage not overcome

600 Black deaths in custody by 2025 – jail numbers to soar

Get out of the way – Aboriginal suicide rates will drop

A nation shamed when the solution for its children is homelessness

Christmas, a period of vulnerability for many

Stop peddling lies $30 billion spent on Indigenous disadvantage is a lie

To end our trauma government must stop the assault on our people and our culture

In Australia there is the Aboriginal rights struggle

Kirstie Parker, Mick Gooda say enough of fine words – close the gap a big fat lie

Highest child removal rates in the world worse than Stolen Generations

Stop examining the oppressed – instead examine the oppressor 

Other media:

A humanitarian crisis 

Beating back suicide 

Youth suicide 

Youth suicide at crisis levels among Indigenous population

A nation shamed when child sees suicide as the solution

Families urged to look after each other as suicide rates soar

Response to rash of suicides in remote WA regions

ABC 7:30 Report – Deaths in custody and jail rates

Indigenous suicide prevention ambassador

Mother takes her own life after losing beloved son

Radio:

Tiga Bayles and Gerry Georgatos discuss the suicide crises

The Wire – The suicide crisis

Unpaid fines leading Indigenous over representation

Researcher says poverty is driving incarceration of Aboriginal people

One in twenty First Peoples deaths classify as suicide

CAAMA Radio – Gerry Georgatos Speaks out on Aboriginal Suicide.

ABC – Indigenous suicide rates at crisis levels