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Kimberley suicide rate highest in the world

Kimberley suicide rates highest in the world - Featured Image

There needs to be more innovative approaches to preventing suicide in Indigenous populations, experts say, with suicide rates in the Kimberley region among the highest in the world.

A report in the Medical Journal of Australia found that there were 125 suicides in the region between 2005 and 2014. 102 of those were Indigenous people.

“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,” the authors wrote.

Most of those people were male and less than 30 years old. 70% were not known by the district’s mental health service.

There were 476 Indigenous people who presented with deliberate self-harm or suicidal intention in 2014.

Related: Coping with patient suicide

The authors wrote that collective trauma and ongoing socio-economic deprivation were the drivers of high self-harm and suicide rates.

In an article in MJA InSight, Suicide prevention researcher and director of humanitarian projects at the Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights, Mr Gerry Georgatos said that a Royal Commission was needed into this “catastrophic humanitarian crisis”.

“A royal commission can shift the national consciousness, educate the nation as to the underlying issues while also smashing myths and stereotypes. [This] has the strongest prospect of galvanising the ways forward,” he said.

One of the authors of the MJA paper, Dr Murray Chapman, told MJA InSight that local communities need to be able to develop their own services based on their needs.

“It’s about empowerment and capacity building in communities – as opposed to imposing on the communities,” he said.

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