Editorial

Mount Isa walk against suicide, Monday September 11, 2017.

Mount Isa walk against suicide, Monday September 11, 2017.

Another World Suicide Prevention Day was marked in Mount Isa with a walk to raise awareness of this terrible scourge.

Over a hundred people walked from Frank Aston car park to the Civic Centre where they released balloons and listened to some great speeches with several different perspectives on the problem.

Event Organiser and Centacare North Queensland Manager Leeanne Harris said the event was a small contribution to go towards supporting our community in being suicide aware.

“Hosting this walk each year gives the opportunity for people to come together from across the North West region in remembering those who we have lost to suicide and those left behind who are bereaved,” Ms Harris said.

“We draw upon each other for support and in doing so, instinctively know that our strength is in our unity - the sum of the whole truly is greater than its parts.”

Indigenous rates of suicide are especially high, and in her welcome to country speech Jenny Watts said there were few Indigenous families in the region that have not felt some loss.

Suicide was almost unknown among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in pre-colonial times but it accelerated after the 1980s.

As far back as 1991 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody found links between substance misuse and mental health disorders before most of the deaths that it investigated.

It also highlighted the disproportionate number of these deaths where there was a history of having been forcibly separated from natural families as children.

Cultural dislocation, personal trauma and the ongoing stresses of disadvantage, racism, alienation and exclusion all contribute to the disproportionate rate of Indigenous suicide.

It hasn’t improved over the year.

In 2010, suicide accounted for 4.2% of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the suicide rate was 2.6 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians.

Reducing suicide and suicidal behaviour among Indigenous people ought to be a top public health priority for all Australian governments – Derek Barry

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