• The day Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an apology to Australia's Aboriginal people. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
One of the leading causes of death for Indigenous Australians is suicide. Each one of these statistics is a life: a family member, a friend, a colleague. In recognition of R U OK and World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday, NITV News asks: what needs to be done?
By
Myles Morgan:

Source:
NITV News
10 Sep 2015 - 5:59 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2015 - 7:52 PM
TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: Tonight we begin by asking 'Are you ok?'

It's R U OK and World Suicide Prevention Day, a time to cast light on one of the leading causes of death for our people.

Our political reporter Myles Morgan begins tonight's coverage.

Myles Morgan: Think about the House of Representatives in Parliament: 150 politicians in this chamber.

That's about how many Indigenous people took their own lives in 2013 – the most recent statistics available.

Tom Calma from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy: There's no singular cause and there's no singular solution. There's a whole composite of reasons why someone might take their own life or attempt to take their own life.

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Australia wants to know: R U OK?
Thousands of people around the country are showing their support for the mental health of their friends, family and colleagues by asking each other 'are you okay?' as part of the international campaign, R U OK? Day on Thursday.

Myles Morgan: The 138 Indigenous suicides in 2013 were only a fraction of the 17-hundred suicides of non- Indigenous people.

But tragically, five to 17 year olds made up more than half the Indigenous toll.

Though the number is smaller, as a rate, Indigenous people are twice as likely to take their life than other Australians.

Tom Calma: We must remember that each one of those statistics is a life, is a family member, a relative, a spouse, brother, sister.

Myles Morgan: Uncle Tom Calma is a true leader in this space, and co-chairs the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

He's says health professionals continually tell government what they need but it isn't always what they get.

Tom Calma: They consider it, they might come up with a solution which is nothing to do with what they've heard or they might just shelve it which is really causing despondency in our communities and people asking 'Why are we continually inputting into government policy but we never get heard?'.

To her credit, the Health Minister is genuinely trying to listen.

"There's no singular cause and there's no singular solution. There's a whole composite of reasons why someone might take their own life or attempt to take their own life."

Minister for Health, Sussan Ley: It's so important that Canberra, at a federal government level, recognises that where something works, it really does matter. We need to be able to give it to the strength to succeed and not put barriers in the way.

Myles Morgan: If it were a question of funding our way to stopping Indigenous suicides, we'd have gotten there years ago. What health professionals are saying is spend the money wisely on what works.

Tom Calma: Programs from the community, that we know are working, and they're not going to work overnight. This is about a long-term, strategic vision and investment if we are going to make a difference.

Myles Morgan, NITV NEWS

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