Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) has been identified as a major indirect cause of youth suicide, an inquest examining 13 suicides among Aboriginal children and young people from WA's Kimberley region has heard.
Of the 13 Aboriginal people who took their own lives over a three-and-a-half year period, five were children aged between 10 and 13, including two sisters.
"Sadly I think FASD is one of the most potent drivers of mental health problems that lead to suicide in places like the Kimberley," said paediatrician James Fitzpatrick, an expert on the condition.
The inquest heard Dr Fitzpatrick's past research found alarming instances of heavy drinking among pregnant women in WA's far north, with more than half surveyed drinking at dangerous levels.
"He has noted higher rates of anxiety and depression, higher rates of suicidal thoughts and that a lot of people suffering from FASD have drug and alcohol dependency problems," counsel assisting the coroner Philip Urquhart said in his opening address.