Support to prevent deaths welcomed

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Recommendations from a high-level report into Aboriginal suicide prevention should be adopted and rolled out with existing on-country programs, indigenous leaders from the Kimberley say.

The region’s peak indigenous law and culture body will soon present the proposals as part of its submission to a State parliamentary inquiry into Aboriginal youth suicides in WA.

The Fitzroy Crossing-based Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre say recommendations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project should be adopted by the State Government.

The centre also wants the State and Commonwealth to accept findings arising from two earlier WA parliamentary inquiries and an inquest report from State Coroner Alistair Hope in which he found four young men from the remote Kimberley Balgo community committed suicide within a year.

The KALACC believes an intergenerational on-country cultural program known as the Yiriman Project, which includes mentoring and youth leadership, should be adopted by the State.

The group said the State Government should revisit a report published by the Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Steering Committee in 2001, while developing its own specific suicide prevention strategy for indigenous people to sit alongside the more generic “whole of community” model.

In its submission to the Education and Health Standing Committee, the KALACC said Aboriginal suicide “for the most part” was not related to schizophrenia or bipolar condition or any other form of severe and persistent mental illness.

It said governments perceived indigenous suicide as an “individual phenomenon” when it was not and that investment responses were geared around “clinical and therapeutic interventions predicted on an individualised conception of the phenomenon”.

The State Coroner will conduct inquests in to the deaths of 11 Aboriginal people in the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions in October this year.

The KALACC said there have been 19 suicides over three months In the Kimberley this year and 325 acts of self-harm were officially reported in the first four months of 2013.

The centre said the suicide prevention focus must be on the community and not the individual.

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