The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released their latest statistical narrative on suicides. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples it is increasing. Governments need to respond to the crisis, translate this pressing issue into a national priority. According to the ABS, 2014 reported an increase. There were 422 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders attributed to external causes. Of these 143 were suicides.

From 2001 to 2010 there were registered 996 suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. On average of about 100 per year but then in 2012 there were 117 suicides and in 2013 there were 138 suicides and 143 in 2014. Sadly, I can state that 2015 will register an even higher toll. The statistical narrative does matter because these numbers are people and the Australian nation should be availed to the extensiveness of suicide.

According to the ABS, suicide was the fifth leading cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Of the 2014 suicides, 143 deaths 102 were male and 41 were female. Where suicides among women had increased to 1 in 4, the female suicides are continuing to increase.

The actual suicide toll and its rates are understated because of under-reporting issues. Some of us estimate that the suicide rate is as high as 1 in 10 to 1 in 12 deaths. From 2009 to 2013, the suicide rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was officially 1 in 19 deaths.

According to the ABS, of the 2,730 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, suicide was the fifth leading cause of death.

 

Declaration of impartiality conflict – Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention researcher and participatory in several national suicide prevention projects. He is also with the Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights.

 

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Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636