A failure to address issues facing the Aboriginal community is partly to blame for Australia’s Indigenous youth suicide crisis, experts claim.
An alarming number of young Indigenous girls have taken their own lives during the past few months, with five committing suicide in just nine days.
The spate of deaths began a with 15-year-old in Queensland followed by girls aged 12, 14, 15 and 12 in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
Managing director of Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Ken Zulumovski said intergenerational trauma and lack of community engagement had played a major part.
An alarming number of young Indigenous girls have taken their own lives during the past few months, with five committing suicide in just nine days (file image)
A 12-year-old indigenous girl living in a community near Adelaide has taken her own life on Friday (file picture)
Indigenous children, aged between five and 17, die from suicide at five times the rate of non-indigenous children, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Figures show one in four people who took their own life before turning 18 were Aboriginal.
‘What we know is that when a child makes a decision to end their life they are in an overwhelming physiological distress. So they feel entirely abandoned and completely helpless,’ Mr Zulumovski told Daily Mail Australia.
‘In some of these areas where it’s happening, Indigenous Australians have been pushed on to the fringe or have become fringe dwellers as a result of confiscation of their land.’
He said as a result they had become refugees in their own country.
‘Indigenous Australians have endured profound physiological injury and this is one of the symptoms.’
‘We’re about to celebrate Australia Day and what exactly are we celebrating?’
Mr Zulumovski said part of the issue was a ‘chronic lack of appropriate engagement skills.’
The spate of deaths began a with 15-year-old in Queensland followed by girls aged 12, 14, 15 and 12 in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia
A 12-year-old indigenous girl living in Adelaide (pictured) has taken her own life – making her the fifth Aboriginal girl to commit suicide in nine days
A 15-year-old girl took her own life in Perth this month. The large number of young girls committing suicide has rocked the community
Youth Action policy and advocacy manager Jacqui McKenzie said youth suicide has long been a problem and more needs to be done to address the issue.
She said there were a number of questions over how Australia had been tracking in responding to issues involving Indigenous people.
‘Have we responded to alarming rates of child protection and removal of children? Have we responded to intergenerational trauma?’
She said the systems in place to prevent self-harm and suicide were not intervening enough, early enough.
A 14-year-old girl in the Kimberley region (pictured) of the Northern Territory also died from suicide
A 12-year-old boy was flown on Monday from Roma (pictured) to Brisbane where he is on life support in hospital after what is thought to be a suicide attempt
Wait times to access services and the lack of culturally sensitive services were major issues in Australia as well, she said.
As culture and community are strong protective factors in young people’s lives, without those, people were at risk of becoming isolated, she said.
The five most recent cases began on January 3 when a 15-year-old from Western Australia who was visiting relatives in Queensland was admitted to hospital after self harming. She died two days later as a result of her injuries.
The wave of reported suicides include three cases in Western Australia, one in Queensland, and the most recent one in South Australia
On January 4, in South Hedland in Western Australia, a 12-year-old girl took her own life, while two days later on January 6, a 14-year-old girl in the Kimberley region of the Northern Territory also died from suicide.
A 15-year-old girl from Perth’s south also took her own life on January 10 and the most recent case out of the five occured in South Australia on January 11.
TIMELINE OF TRAGEDY
JANUARY 3: Girl, 15, from Western Australia self-harms in Queensland and dies two days later.
JANUARY 4: Girl, 12, kills herself in Western Australia.
JANUARY 6: Girl, 14, commits suicide in the Northern Territory.
JANUARY 10: Girl, 15, dies from suicide in Perth.
January 11: Girl, 12, kills herself in a community near Adelaide.
Head of the Federal Government’s indigenous critical response team Gerry Georgatos said that poverty and lack of education were identified as factors leading to the deaths, but added that sexual assaults were behind one-third of cases.
Indigenous lawyer Hannah McGlade has advised the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva and said there is a clear link between child sexual assault, family violence, and the high levels of indigenous girls and women who were taking their own lives.
‘Last year the UN highlighted the level of violence against indigenous women and girls in Australia and called for a specific national action plan,’ Dr McGlade told The Australian.
‘The people funded to provide suicide prevention plans are not properly addressing the level of sexual violence suffered by our women and girls.’
For confidential support call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14.
Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline.
Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation their trained volunteers are ready to listen, provide support and referrals.