• Young Indigenous leaders from Western Australia have made recommendations urging the need for more education around suicide. (WA Primary Health Alliance )Source: WA Primary Health Alliance
Suicide remains one of the leading causes of death among young First Nations people and this group has come together in the hope of reducing those figures.
Brooke Fryer

16 Dec 2019 - 5:23 PM  UPDATED 16 Dec 2019 - 5:23 PM

Young Indigenous leaders from Western Australia have made recommendations for more education around suicide in an effort to help curb the alarming rates.

The Empowered Young Leaders’ report, a group that is part of the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial, is calling for a permanent forum to help amplify their voices and for the embedding of local Aboriginal culture into school curriculums.

The group has also demanded more education around emotional and social wellbeing for young people, so they are able to support their peers with mental health concerns.

Group member, Jacob Smith, 23, who has been working in suicide prevention for two years, said the young leaders also want to see agencies and government bodies involve youth in their policymaking.

“We wanted real recommendations to come out of the Forum, to amplify our voice,” he said in the report.

The report additionally referred to the lack of out-of-hours services and suggested more funding be directed into 24-hour safe houses, alcohol & substance rehabilitation centres, and mental health units for youth across the West Kimberley region.

"Youth delegates discussed the inadequate and inconsistent provision of youth services and programs across the West Kimberley region, especially the lack of accessible and age-appropriate after-hours services for young Aboriginal people who are at higher risk during these times," the report said.

"They also expressed their frustration at lack of local training and employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people, especially young people, in the youth services sector." 

Powerful statement

The group released a powerful statement alongside the report’s release that said they would no longer accept “the normalisation of suicide”.

“As Empowered Young Leaders, we commit to lead and action positive change to improve our future and the future of our next generations; and, in doing so, we acknowledge and accept our inherent obligation being passed on to us,” the statement read.

“We represent a generation of Change and Action. We accept this responsibility on behalf of our families and communities. The path laid before us by our Elders and Leaders past and present has enabled us to become Actionists who walk proudly as Empowered Young Leaders in Two Worlds.”

The recommendations follow coroner Ros Fogliani's inquest into the 13 deaths of young First Nations people from the Kimberley region in 2017.

The state government is expected to hand down its formal response to the inquest within the next few weeks.

In the first 12 weeks of 2019, there were 35 Indigenous people who were reported to have committed suicide. Three were children aged only 12-years-old, according to the National Indigenous Critical Response Unit.

Suicide remains the leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt told ABC News that the recommendations were being considered.

“The report will have an important role to play in the Government's understanding of the perspective of young Aboriginal people in the region," he said.

The youth report and recommendations have been shared with state and federal government bodies. 

- 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.