During the last five years I have accurately estimated – sadly – the annual suicide toll and last year predicted that the 2015 toll would exceed 3,000 suicides. It will be higher for 2016.
I accurately estimated the Aboriginal and Torres Islander suicide toll for each of the last five years and again it will be higher for 2016.
There is no authentic response to the suicides crises – it is long overdue that a Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides is established. Similarly, a central body should be established to authenticate the ways forward, an Australian Commission into Suicide Prevention and Wellbeing. It is important to establish such bodies if what we know works is to be further invested in, if what does not work is ceased, if what makes things worse is put to an end, if the inauthentic and carpetbaggers are weeded out, if disaggregation and deep understandings into high risk groups are to occur and the tailor-made ways forward identified and sponsored.
The conversations that Australia should be having are not being sponsored. There are some very limited conversations occurring but they are behind closed doors and this is obviously dangerous.
Australia’s official suicide toll reached 3,027 – a harrowing toll, more than double the combined total of Australian military deaths, homicides and the road toll. The grim reality is that thousands more Australians suicided but because of under-reporting issues they have not been classified as suicides. The accumulation of stressors is increasing and therefore an increasing sense of hopelessness is debilitating more Australians to despair.
Similarly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders suicides will continue to increase at rates that should have been unimaginable.
However migrants are lost in translation, they account for more than one in four of the Australian suicide toll and we have to disaggregate to the high risk population groups so we leave no-one behind.
Generalised counselling is not the way forward and indeed tailor-made counselling, education and psychosocial support are needed. The medicating of people is at record levels but more people than ever are victim to disordered thinking, high end depressions, a constancy of traumas, victim to aggressive complex traumas and more Australians than ever before attempting suicide.
Youth suicide is a damning portrayal of the increasing sense of hopelessness – nearly 1 in 3 of the nation’s child suicides are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children despite where overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 1 in 17 of the Australian suicide toll. The sense of hopelessness for a significant proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a national disgrace, an abomination.
The answers do not rest with more medications or with a focus on ‘resilience’. ‘Resilience’ needs to be coupled with hope. Resilience in effect asks people to adjust their behaviour but how far and for how long without any hope on the horizon? The answers are found in improving the lot of others, with improving wellbeing, with the psychosocial uplift into hope, in an education that provides the dawn of new meanings and understandings, with understanding traumas as various, unique, and with disaggregating to the high risk population groups but also to the high risk categorical groups, which include in order of highest risk; individuals who as children were removed from their biological families, the houseless/homeless, unaddressed childhood trauma, former inmates, victims of sexual abuse.
There has been a significant effort made during the last few years to raise awareness of suicide, its extensiveness and its causes and of the ways forward. I fear that much will be touted and much betrayed. Accolades will proliferate to the chattering classes and elites while the nation soaks up more blood and grief than ever. However despite despairing at the misshapen responses and indeed the fraud of some of these responses there are good people that one can turn to. We cannot give up hope and indeed we will continue to work towards this. This is a must-do.