Indigenous suicides in Victoria rose by 75 per cent last year

The Coroners Koori Engagement Unit says the figures are "a reminder of the systemic inequalities" faced by Indigenous Australians.

A general view of the Coroner's Court of Victoria.

A general view of the Coroner's Court of Victoria. Source: AAP

This article contains references to suicide.

Suicides by Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rose by 75 per cent in 2021.

In a new report released on Thursday, the Coroners Court of Victoria revealed 35 deaths by suicide in 2021, compared to 20 the year before.

There were 21 such deaths in 2019 and 16 in 2018.

"The increase in suicides of Aboriginal Victorians is heartbreaking," Coroners Koori Engagement Unit manager and Yuin man Troy Williamson said in a statement.

"It is a reminder of the systemic inequalities our communities face and this report needs to be used to drive change for our people."

Mr Williamson said suicide is complex and has many layers, but it is vital that barriers to seeking culturally competent support are dismantled.

"Our communities are hurting. Although confronting, I hope this report can start conversations that empower our people."

The Suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, 2018 - 2021 is the third such report by the Victorian coroner.

The report found Indigenous people currently die by suicide at a rate three-and-a-half times higher than the non-Indigenous population.

They also tend to be younger than non-Indigenous people and occur most frequently in regional areas.

Suicide frequencies remain higher amongst males than females, with Indigenous men aged between 25 and 34 (27.9 per cent), 45 and 54 (24.6 per cent), and 35 to 44 (21.3 per cent) continuing to be most at risk.

Amongst females, those aged 18 to 24 (38.7 per cent) and 25 to 34 (25.8 per cent) are the highest risk groups.

The stressors found are complex, including contact with the justice system, insecure access to accommodation, family violence, and difficulties in accessing support services immediately prior to passing.

Since the Koori-led Coroners Koori Engagement Unit was established in 2019, the court has enhanced identification and accuracy of information for current and historic reportable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths.

The court's December 2021 monthly suicide report presenting data on all suicides in Victoria for 2021 was also released on Thursday, revealing suicide rates overall decreased with 683 in 2021, compared to 712 in 2020, and 700 in 2019.

"Every death from suicide is one too many - and our thoughts are with the families and communities of these Victorians," Mental Health Minister James Merlino said.

"We know there is so much more work to do, as these tragic deaths have shown.

"As we embark on our decade-long reform of Victoria's mental health system, we will build a system that allows Aboriginal Victorians to access the safe, inclusive, respectful, and responsive services they deserve."

Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, visit or find an . Resources for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be found at .

3 min read
Published 20 January 2022 at 2:30pm
Source: AAP,SBS