Kimberley suffering from ‘funeral fatigue’, says culture group
The next Federal government — regardless of which political party it comes from — must act swiftly to address the alarming suicide rates of Indigenous people in WA’s Kimberley.
That’s the call from the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC) in WA’s north, a region where the suicide rate is among the highest in the world.
Centre co-ordinator Wes Morris told the National Indigenous Times the Kimberley community was suffering from “funeral fatigue”.
“There isn’t a family in the Kimberley that hasn’t experienced this in one way or another,” he said.
“People are weary and tired of burying their young people.”
His comments came after a recent report in the Australian Medical Journal found that of the 125 suicides in the Kimberley in the 10 years to 2014, 102 of those were Indigenous.
Most were young men under 30 and a big number were under 20.
Indigenous people in the Kimberley were seven times more likely to kill themselves than other Australians, the report found.
And in 2014, 86 percent of the 553 people who presented with suicidal behaviour in the region were Blackfellas, with young women aged 15 to 24 years, and men aged 25 to 34, making up the biggest groups.
The report was based on an audit of data held by the Kimberley mental health and drug service as well as police records of suicides and self-harm presentations at hospitals and non-government organisations.
Mr Morris said Kimberley groups had been warning of the need for action for more than a decade.
He said when the new federal government is sworn in it must name the Kimberley as a priority area and help tackle the epidemic by investing in programs such as mentoring and youth leadership.
In March, a 10-year-old girl in the the remote community of Looma, 250kms east of Broome, committed suicide, prompting renewed calls for a royal commission into Indigenous suicide.
* Anyone who may be feeling distressed can contact the following organisations for help: SANE HELPLINE on 1800 187263, Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224636.
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