• A new report into suicide and self-harm in the Kimberley region shows it still has one of the worst suicide rates in the country. (AAP)Source: AAP
In the space of 40 hours last week four young Indigenous Queenslanders took their own lives, prompting renewed calls for a new national action plan.
Brooke Fryer

18 Mar 2019 - 5:08 PM  UPDATED 19 Mar 2019 - 11:48 AM

Last week in Queensland four more Indigenous youths took their lives in separate incidences over just 40 hours.

The deaths included two young women aged 15 and 23 in Townsville and two young men aged 19 and 20 in the northwest town of Mt Isa

The latest reported tragedies bring the toll of Indigenous suicide to 31 in just the first 10 weeks of this year. According to leading suicide researcher Gerry Georgatos, young Indigenous women in particular are taking their lives at greater rates than ever before

"Five of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 11 suicides this year have been females,” he told NITV News.

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Hannah McGlade, senior Indigenous research fellow at Curtin University in WA, said domestic violence towards women and girls is a leading cause of suicide.

“There was some research done over a decade ago in the Kimberley by Aboriginal women and the finding was that all the Aboriginal girls that had committed suicide experienced sexual abuse,” she told NITV news.

“Aboriginal women and girls experience high levels of family violence or gender-based violence and we need to have proper human rights-based interventions and responses to stem this problem.”

Aboriginal women are five times more likely to be subject to physical assault and three times more likely to be victims of sexual assault, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Ms McGlade is calling on the government for a new national action plan.

“The national action plan [is] specifically for Aboriginal women and girls to address violence, the UN (United Nations) has advised Australia this [action plan] is what is needed and I fully agree with that,” she said.

Earlier this year, five young girls took their lives in separate incidences in just the first two weeks of the new year. In 2018, Indigenous suicides accounted for 40 per cent of all youth suicides, despite Aboriginal youth making up only 5 per cent of children 17-years and younger. 

In addition to physical and sexual assault, Mr Georgatos said poverty is also a major contribution

“Nearly 100 per cent of First Nations suicides are of people living below the poverty line,” he told NITV News.

“Nine of ten suicides of First Nations children and adults in the urban masses, in the cities and large towns, occur in public housing."

February this year saw an inquest into 13 Aboriginal youth suicides in the Kimberley region between November 2012 and March 2016 handed down by West Australian state coroner, Ros Fogliani.

The inquest found that each suicide was the result of poverty and intergenerational trauma, with some having being exposed to domestic violence.

Ms Fogliani made 42 recommendations that covered a range of areas including health care, education, rehabilitation programs and culturally supportive services. 

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyondblue on 1300 224 636, Lifeline on 1311 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. 

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