Northern Territory elders are hoping to save young Aboriginal lives by creating Australia's first indigenous community-led suicide prevention app.
Self harm is the leading killer of young indigenous people, but elders from one remote Northern Territory community bucking that trend hope to save lives by bringing their traditional wisdom into the digital age.
Warlpiri elders from Lajamanu have partnered with the Black Dog Institute to develop Australia's first indigenous community-led suicide prevention app.
Young Aboriginal people die from suicide at five times the national rate.
But Lajamanu has been suicide-free since 2005.
Dubbed Kurdiji 1.0, the app is designed to build resilience and boost self-value in kids by reconnecting them with Aboriginal culture, community and country.
Warlpiri elder Steve Patrick says the app will bring hope.
"Kurdiji means 'shield' for us Warlpiri. It's initiation ceremony as well," he said.
"It's meant to teach people to look at life and really protect life - shield them off from all the elements of negative things of the world."
Users will learn about language, ceremony, skin name and law to foster a sense of identity and belonging.
The inspiration for the app was born following the community's first youth suicide 12 years ago, when Warlpiri elders felt compelled to share their previously secret ideologies with the wider public.
It was a controversial choice that broke traditional law, cultural historian and creative director of Kurdiji 1.0, Dr Judith Crispin said.
"They decided that indigenous lives are more important. They said there'll be no one left to carry their traditions if they lose all their young ones," she told AAP.
The community established the Milpirri festival, which successfully celebrated Kurdiji on a local level but failed to reach vulnerable people on a large scale.
"This app will put their knowledge in the hands of indigenous kids all around the country," Dr Crispin said.
With help from indigenous actor Jack Charles as ambassador, the makers behind Kurdiji 1.0 are crowdfunding in the hopes of raising $280,000 for a 12-month pilot project.
The initial version will be offered in English and Warlpiri, but elders hope the app will eventually reach as many traditional languages as possible.
If that goes well, they want to expand the app for sectors of the non-indigenous community struggling with high suicide rates, such as farmers in rural areas.
Black Dog Institute's Dr Fiona Shand says Aboriginal suicide rates have been increasing over the past decade, and indigenous men aged between 25 and 29 take their own lives at the highest rate in the world.
The clinical psychologist says indigenous Australians rarely seek help for mental illness due to geographical isolation, stigma and concerns about confidentiality.
But the Kurdiji 1.0 app breaks down those barriers.
"This is an early intervention, something you can deliver universally to young people to prevent depression," Dr Shand said.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.
Local Aboriginal Medical Service available from www.vibe.com.au.