• RUOK's latest campaign featuring Joe Williams. (RUOK)Source: RUOK
Organisers say the campaign comes at a time when reducing suicide rates looms as one of Australia's most important challenges.
Douglas Smith

26 Mar 2019 - 6:25 PM  UPDATED 27 Mar 2019 - 7:57 AM

Content Warning: This article discusses suicide

Suicide prevention charity RUOK has launched a new campaign encouraging Indigenous people around Australia to have meaningful conversations with friends and family.

The 'stronger together' campaign includes TV and radio spots, long-form videos and posters, and features people discussing their experiences and asking each other 'are you okay?'

Former NRL star Joe Williams - a Wiradjuri man who survived a suicide attempt and has since become a mental health advocate - features in the publicity material.

It was developed with RUOK's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group and 33 Creative, an Aboriginal owned and managed advertising agency.

NITV is the campaign's key broadcast partner.

Suicide rates among Indigenous Australians are currently twice as frequent as the general population, according to RUOK. It is also the leading cause of death of Indigenous people aged 15 to 34, according to 2016 figures from the Bureau of Statistics.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been under pressure to take action after the recent deaths of several young Indigenous people were given prominent media coverage.

Dr Vanessa Lee, a social epidemiologist who leads RUOK's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group, said outreach services designed and controlled by Indigenous communities were required to address the issue.

"If government and policymakers actually listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we would not have such a high prevalence in suicide,” she told NITV.

"It's not rocket science.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here. There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe.

For more, watch tonight's episode of NITV's #ThePoint at 8.30pm, Channel 34.

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