World Suicide Prevention Day 2014

Suicide is occurring at far higher rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than among other Australians (see text box below). Because of this, reducing suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a priority focus of NATSILMH. 

NATSILMH marked World Suicide Prevention Day 2014 on 10 September with a media release welcoming the launch of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP), which will evaluate the effectiveness of existing suicide prevention services and programs in combating suicide and suicide ideation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

NATSILMH Chair Professor Pat Dudgeon and member Ms Adele Cox were interviewed on the day and discussed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide, and the importance of social and emotional wellbeing and community-control of suicide prevention activity.

View the SBS interview with Professor Dudgeon

Listen to Ms Adele Cox take part in a ABC radio panel discussion on suicide and suicide prevention

NATSILMH member Dr Tom Calma AO attended a Suicide Prevention Australia panel discussion on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first report on suicide and the Australian response to it. The report noted that stress on culture and discrimination is associated with increased suicide among Indigenous peoples. Conversely, supporting culture and cultural continuity has been found to be protective against suicide among indigenous communities in the US and Canada. It found that culturally appropriate suicide prevention services are important for Indigenous people and that these should be integrated with mental health and substance abuse services

View webcast of the panel discussion with Dr Calma 

Read about the WHO report on suicide prevention

Download the Australian response to the WHO report

Facts on suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported there were 996 Indigenous deaths by suicide over 2001-10, or about 100 per year for that decade. This was approximately twice the rate of suicide for non-Indigenous people. 

Suicide rates for Indigenous females aged 15–19 years were 5.9 times higher than those for non-Indigenous females in this age group, while for males the corresponding rate ratio was 4.4.

Recent data suggests that the situation may be getting worse. The ABS recently reported 117 deaths by suicide in 2012, as determined by coronial inquest. Independent researchers suggest that as many as 130 deaths by suicide a year are now taking place as some deaths (for example, drug overdoses) will not be identified as suicide by coroners.