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Aboriginal suicide rates in Kimberley among the highest in the world

Photo: Kimberley suicides among highest in world
A new report showing the high rate of suicide among indigenous people in WA's Kimberley region has led to calls for better suicide prevention strategies. 

Suicide rates among indigenous people in Western Australia's Kimberley region are among the highest in the world, an audit has found.

Between 2005-14, there were 125 suicides in the Kimberley - 102 were indigenous people.

This equates to an age-adjusted suicide rate of 74 per cent per 100,000 people per year, according to the report published in the recent issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

The alarming figures highlight the need for multidisciplinary, culturally appropriate and youth-focused approaches to suicide prevention, the authors of the report say.

An audit of the Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service database shows of the 102 Indigenous individuals to die from suicide, 71 per cent were male, 68 per cent were less than 30 years old, and nearly a third were aged 20 or younger.
It was also found that 70 per cent of these individuals were not known or had never been referred to the mental health service.

The rates of self-harm were found to be ten times higher than those reported by international studies.

Report co-author Dr Murray Chapman says long-term living standards and poor access to services are likely to be driving the high rates of self-harm and suicide.

"Collective trauma and ongoing socio-economic deprivation are drivers of escalating self-harm and suicide rates among Indigenous Australians," Dr Chapman said.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 and Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.


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