Suicide is a leading cause of death for Australian teenagers. For Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children the situation is even direr. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children aged 14 years and less are 8 times more likely to suicide than non-Aboriginal children. Suicide is their 2nd leading cause of death.

The total number of suicides among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children, for all children in fact, appears low. The registered suicides are probably two to four times higher depending on the State and Territory jurisdiction. In some States and Territories the coroner is unlikely to provide a determination of ‘suicide’ to a child aged 13 years and less because of the presumption that children below that age are not capable of ‘forming’ an adequate understanding of ‘suicide’. Therefore some coroners provide an ‘undetermined intent’ finding or an ‘external cause’ finding.

Some coroners are of the view that a child aged less than 10 years cannot properly form an understanding of suicide and that a child aged 10 to 13 is still forming an understanding. The findings of undetermined intent or of findings allayed to external causes are sometimes delivered by coroners because of sensitivity towards grieving families.

Despite the undetermined intent findings the toll, despite the leading cause of death indicator, can seem small. But children are obviously the prime of life and lowest mortality stretch of human existence. However the alarm bells are there. Suicidal ideation rates are increasing among our children. Self-harming rates are increasing among our children. If Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children aged 14 years and less are 8 times more likely to suicide then the alarm bells are ringing loudly – the warnings must be heeded.

We have to ascertain the underlying issues, factors and what has our children ideating suicide, what is leading them into severe distresses. For Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples the highest risk groups are those young people aged 18 years of age to 30 years. Nearly 90 per cent of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander suicides are of people aged 45 years and less, with the 20 to 25 years age group disproportionately represented. The issues leading children to burdensome psychological distresses, to ideating suicide will play out later in life if left unaddressed. There are a quick of accumulation of life stresses once someone leaves childhood, including an accumulation of expectations. These life stresses and expectations can compound unaddressed disrupted childhoods, unaddressed traumas, compound traumas, debilitating young people psychosocially, psychologically and psychiatrically.

We have to focus on the underlying issues that lead to serious psychological distresses and suicidal ideation in our children.


Declaration of impartiality conflict – Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention researcher and participatory in several national suicide prevention projects.

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:

Recovery the focus

40 million life years lost to suicide

Hidden truths – it is worse, not better

Some want to portray things on the improve

Suicide in people numbers instead of comparative rates
Oppression is the cause of the majority of the suicides

It is not a competition but suicide is the leading cause of death

Do not play with peoples’ lives

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


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 

CAAMA Radio – Speaking out on Aboriginal suicide


Suicide - a catastrophic humanitarian crisis - ABC News

Cry for Help - ABC News