Gerry Georgatos – It has taken years for an at long last acknowledgement of the fact that nearly one-third of Australia’s suicides are of migrant born Australians, with a significant proportion relatively newly arrived. I have been writing relentlessly for years about the harrowing high number of suicides of the migrant-born and of the children of the migrant born.
We do not need reviews and research to delay critical responses, early intervention, psychosocial supports and outreach to the affected.
We need only to acknowledge that the migrant born comprise nearly one-third of the Australian suicide toll. We need only to acknowledge that 60 percent of the suicides of the migrant born are of people relatively newly arrived, and from other than English backgrounds who experienced socioeconomic stressors. We need to acknowledge unaddressed traumas, isolation, racism, classism.
We need to disaggregate to the categorical risk groups and tailor make responses but for the most part we need to ensure that the migrant born, like all others experiencing suicidality, have somewhere adequate to turn to.
Reprehensibly, the migrant born, and the children of the migrant born till yesterday were effectively excluded from suicide prevention discourses, till the yesterday’s briefest mention. Whether unconscious or conscious, there was nevertheless a censorship by omission. In my view this has always been a damning indictment of this nation. Of a nation extensively polycultural but bent on assimilation and this is onerous assimilation agenda – homogeneity – refused to disaggregate to peoples from migrant born backgrounds.
The Australian suicide toll is increasing. The suicide toll has increased by 35 percent during the last decade.
I remind that more than 50 percent of Australians who died from suicide sought specialised help in the weeks before their deaths. The majority could not find it or were prematurely discharged or worse, turned away.
A significant proportion of people who died by suicide were seen by mental health clinicians in the week before their death.
I am not arguing that the mental health narrative is the answer but rather I am arguing that we need to reshape and authenticate the suicide prevention narrative. More clinicians and more clinical support, more acute health beds, are not the answer. In my experience, suicidality is not majorly a mental health issue. It is psychosocial. Community-care-based psychosocial facilities and supports, long-haul support, assertive outreach, resourced home-based supports and systems are the way forward. People need people. We need to support people from cognitive narrowing to cognitive wider contexts, to disable validated traumas and negative selves, to assist with a firmament of psychosocial needs and to prosper hope.
We need to understand that suicide is intersected by socioeconomic stressors, poverty and that poverty accumulates stressors and that this accumulation can overwhelm and even disorder thinking.
The suicide crises are increasing. There is as if a permanency of trend of increasing youth and child suicides, of the migrant born, of First Nations peoples, of LGBQTI peoples, but mostly the majority of these suicides were of people who lived below or in proximity to the poverty line. What can lead someone to take their life is many times more likely for that someone if living below the poverty line.
There are nearly 1,000 suicides each year of migrant born Australians.
- Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention and poverty researcher. He is also the national coordinator of the National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project.
- Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.
Australia’s ‘suicide prevention plan’ is barely worth the name
As a young child I remember the absorption of sadness by some of Sydney’s Greek community of the suicide by a newly-arrived young Greek male. Years later I would read some of his letters to the homeland, yearning to return after he made his quid in a country he believed found it hard to accept him. This is the tale of many newly-arrived migrants albeit to one of the world’s most culturally diverse nations. Racism has many veils and layers and misoxeny and xenophobia are toxic.