A new national strategy specifically addressing Indigenous suicide was launched today on both sides of Australia.
By
Ryan Liddle

Source
NITV News
23 May 2013 - 3:59 PM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 10:48 AM

A new national strategy specifically addressing Indigenous suicide was launched today on both sides of Australia.

The new strategy will focus on early intervention, coordinate approaches to prevention and aim to build stronger communities around the country.

The federal government will provide nearly $18 million over the next four years to fund the approach.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the funding is going to target communities with high suicide numbers.

"The money is there now in the budget and will go to those places where they have initiatives that people want to put in place in their communities," she says.

"We also know that it's important to focus on areas where there has been a concentration of suicide. So in those areas we need to do some extra effort."

The impact of suicide is felt across the country, but Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander suicide rates are more than double the general population.

The $17.8 million in funding will be distributed throughout the states and Territories over the next 4 years.

Indigenous health advocate Dr Tom Calma says initiatives focusing on the needs of Indigenous communities are essential to lowering suicide rates.

"Our mode of suicide, our incidents of suicide are very different because we too often in our communities have what we call clusters where more than one suicide happens at one time and we don't understand enough about that," he says.

"We know it happens, we know that we have to work towards trying to change it, and fortunately we've got a lot people working with us in this process. Now that we got the funds, now that we've got the strategy, we've got to marry them together. We've got to work with the existing health sector to see how we can work together."

National Mental Health Commissioner Professor Allan Fels has welcomed the announcement but says the initiative should have been implemented sooner.

"I think it's fair to say that governments -- federal, state, even local -- have been slow to really try to deal with this problem," he says.

"It is an incredibly important problem -- such unacceptably high rates of suicide."

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Local Aboriginal Medical Service available from www.vibe.com.au.