Dark light shined on Indigenous suicide
Suicide rates among Indigenous people in some parts of the Kimberly are ten times the global average.
A team of Western Australian researchers has reviewed suicide stats from across the Kimberly, one of the most remote and least-resourced areas in Australia.
The study found that most of the Indigenous individuals were male and under thirty years old, and just under a third were younger than twenty.
Researchers say that group trauma, long-term low living standards and poor access to services are likely to be driving the high rates of self-harm and suicide.
There were 125 suicides in the Kimberley between 2005 and 2014, and 102 were by Indigenous people, Dr Catherine McHugh (Kimberley Population Health Unit), Dr Murray Chapman (Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service) and co-authors found.
“As the Kimberley Indigenous population was 13 918 at the 2011 census, this equates to an age adjusted suicide rate of 74 per 100 000 per year in this population,” they wrote.
Most of the 102 Indigenous individuals were male (71 per cent), 68 per cent were less than 30 years old and 27 per cent were less than 20 years old.
Of those people, 70 per cent were not known or had ever been referred to the mental health service.
Self-harm is also of concern in the region, with 476 Indigenous people presenting with deliberate self-harm or suicidal ideation in 2014. The rates of deliberate self-harm were 10 times higher than those reported by international studies of hospital self-harm presentations.
The report “highlights the need for multidisciplinary, culturally appropriate, innovative and youth focused approaches to suicide prevention activities”.
The full paper has been published by leading health lobby, the AMA.