The manager of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) in Fitzroy Crossing has called for State and National Governments to refocus on the Indigenous youth suicide rate.
By
Craig Quartermaine

Source:
NITV News
2 Oct 2013 - 4:35 PM  UPDATED 3 Oct 2013 - 8:40 AM

The manager of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) in Fitzroy Crossing has called for State and National Governments to refocus on the Indigenous youth suicide rate.

Wes Harris, Coordinator of KALACC, said he believed the guidelines used to define a person as a suicide risk make our youth suicide rates one of the worst in the world.

KALACC has been a part of the Kimberley for almost 30 years and has participated into coronial inquests into the prevention and treatment of youth suicide.

According to Mr Harris, noting severe mental Illness as the key indicator of a potential suicide is one of the biggest misconceptions in the region.

"Let's look at those words again, severe and persistent mental illness, yes someone who takes their life must be deeply troubled but those same young people, 24 hours earlier, they're not schizophrenic, they're not bi polar, they're troubled youths with very fragile identities," Mr Harris said.

It is this loss of identity Mr Harris said is more of a detrimental factor in Indigenous Youth suicide.

To support his case, Mr Harris used the research of Canadian Professor Michael Chandler.

“What it means is that white fellas think all black fellas are the same, and when you actually look at statistics you know that's not true because what Chandler has found is that 50 per cent of Canadian Aboriginal people not only have low suicide, they have no suicide,” says Mr Harris.

Journalist and Researcher Gerry Georgatos has been comparing suicide rates and information from organisations like KALACC and believes Australian society has grown numb to the existing figures. 

"We have become so numb to it that these are now assumptions, that we accept premises we accept each year. It does actually get worse, there is no year in the last 15 that it’s gotten better," says Mr Georgatos.

Mr Georgatos also sees the age bracket declining for those in danger.

"The two most susceptible groups are the five- to 15-year-olds, and the groups are getting younger and younger next year," Mr Georgatos said.