This little bub is a child of the Kimberley region which has among the nation's highest suicide rates - photo, Gerry Georgatos

This little bub is a child of the Kimberley region which has among the nation’s highest suicide rates – photo, Gerry Georgatos

Each suicide is not only a personal tragedy but dramatically affects the lives of families. With one person reportedly suiciding every 40 seconds around our world, suicide has become a public health issue. With each suicide it is estimated that there are scores of attempted suicides and tens of thousands of intentional self-harm hospitalisations.

According to the World Health Organisation, globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death of people aged 15 to 30 years.

In Australia, suicide is a leading cause of death, particularly among the descendants of its First Peoples. With Australia, there are on average seven suicides a day. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander youth are dying by suicide at among the world’s highest rates.

Risk factors are many but in the end there is a breakdown in oneself to deal with what have become chronic life stresses. But among different cultures these life stresses are perceived differently, with varying degrees of priorities and expectations around them, and therefore suicidal ideation rates and suicide rates vary significantly.

Another major risk factor that can be demonstrated is that within countries with minorities that experience discrimination, within these minorities there are higher rates of suicidal ideation and of suicide.

If we can see and demonstrate these risk factors and causes to suicidal ideation and suicide then it is logical to argue that we can do something about reducing the prevalence of suicidal ideation and reduce the incidence of suicide. But despite all the sectors of society that are required to intertwine and work to educate, to assist and to support others, foremost we need the media and the politic of the nation to establish the foundations of suicide prevention. We must relentlessly strive for this but we must not place all our expectations in this hope.

Suicide prevention is made up of education, of the normative that should make up a healthy life, of establishing prevention, intervention and postvention practices and services on a 24/7 basis. Postvention is also a process of prevention – tackling familial and community distress and the contagion effect. Improving a community’s social health and wealth is predominately a governmental deed, a political deed but in educating into a community a contextual sense of the meanings of life, of well balanced expectations of what it means to have a good life, of understanding attainable goals and in putting paid to the pernicious notions of ‘failure’, are deeds that can be achieved by community settings and institutions. This doesn’t happen overnight but neither does it take too long to make a real difference once these community settings and localised institutions are empowered.

Social change is often dependent on political will but often the political will is a reductionist one or totally skewed to the absurd but this dangerous dependency on the political will of a nation can be defied and social strategies can be managed by the arbiters of local level knowledge and influence.

The majority of premature and unnatural deaths, which include, suicide are indeed preventable, and research evidences this. Despite all this, low-cost education, prevention and intervention  are the low end of the scale of priorities for governments. This is a tragedy. Suicide prevention must be a community’s highest priority and we can work to this, we can roll this out, because where this has occurred, suicidal ideation and suicide rates have dramatically decreased. With governments it is a tougher gig, but one that we have to keep at and with the more communities empowered the voices grow and hence we have the movement towards a cultural shift, and well, governments do tend to respond to these cultural shifts.

It is important to listen to people. It is imperative. It is a dangerous myth that people who talk about suicide do not mean to do it. For goodness sake, people who talk about suicide are in trouble, they are screaming out for help. People need people. Suicidal ideation journeys grief, anguish, anxiety, depressions, the sense of failure, identity crises, the sense of hopelessness. The majority of people who are talking about ending their lives are thinking about doing this. There needs to be calm and patience but concomitant with a sense of urgency, even if this means just being there, even if a word is not shared – but people need people. We may not get our words right but what we must get right is that the other understands, even in any silence, that we are there for them.

In vulnerable communities, or right down to vulnerable members in family units, we need to empower a 24/7 conduit to those whom can help, support, educate, improve and save lives. I will be writing near daily on the ways forward. We have a duty to one another to immerse ourselves in what it takes to sustain a healthier and happier society.

Governments must take note of the above, because once they realise the importance of what I am writing about, maybe then more within governments will prioritise the high stake issues ahead of the lower stake ones.

 

Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline, 13 11 14, provides counselling and advice to anyone in crisis.More reading and links:

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

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

Other media:

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

Radio:

Tiga Bayles and Gerry Georgatos discuss the suicide crises

The Wire – The suicide crisis

Unpaid fines leading Indigenous over representation