Young Aborigines are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians. Experts and aboriginal elders believe a variety of reasons drive aboriginal youth to suicide, including a disconnection from traditional culture and land.
In Western Australia’s Kimberley region suicide has reached epidemic proportions, with one suicide every week on average since the end of December 2011.
Many new programmes are trying to stem the tide. Community rangers in the Kimberley are now being trained in suicide intervention as part of a rapid response team.
The Balunu Foundation uses cultural traditions to help build the self-esteem of at-risk youths – by organising camps where aboriginal youths can reconnect back to their land and culture.
In the east Arnhem-land community of Ski Beach in the country’s north an unfunded group of elderly women run a suicide night watch to prevent at-risk youths from harming themselves.
Dr Pat Dudgeon, Australia’s leading aboriginal mental health practitioner, is from the Kimberley region herself and she is starting Australia’s first National Suicide Prevention Strategy that targets aboriginals specifically.
101 East visits remote aboriginal communities which have seen a spate of young suicides and looks at some of the desperate attempts by some of the worst affected aboriginal communities to save their young.
101 East airs each week at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2230; Friday: 0930; Saturday: 0330; Sunday: 1630.
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