• Gerry Georgatos initiated the online suicide petition. (Gerry Georgatos)Source: Gerry Georgatos
The change.org petition 'Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicides' is trending at more than 1,000 signatures per hour to collect more than 20,000 signatures to reach its target of 25,000.
Nancia Guivarra

11 Jul 2016 - 7:41 PM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2016 - 8:29 AM

The change.org petition is a bipartisan proposal to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Suicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos initiated the petition, which he says he will send to them once it has reached its targeted 25,000 signatures. 

It is supported by awarded Indigenous human rights advocates Dameyon Bonson, Mervyn Eades and Lex Wotton and other Indigenous leaders including Tauto Sansbury and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks. 

The initiative follows Mr Georgatos calls to the West Australian parliamentary enquiry that a Royal Commission into Indigenous Suicides is needed.  

"If we don’t have a Royal Commission, we’re gonna soak up more blood, if I can put it that way.”  

The petition states that official figures show the cause of death of more than 5 per cent of Indigenous people or one in 19 is by suicide but Mr Georgatos estimates that figure is much more, at around 10 per cent. 

He says a royal commission is the only body with the human and material resources that can best tackle the issue, and the mission should be led Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts.  

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Mr Georgatos says there is no single issue leading to suicides, but that they represent the tip of an iceberg that stems from social exclusion.

“Suicides are a culmination of various multiple composite traumas that need deep examination to find out what needs to be done,” Mr Georgatos says.

Most at risk

Those who have been removed from their families and former prisoners are 10 times more likely to suicide after their release from prison, according to Mr Georgatos.

"Family members of those who have taken their life are also at higher risk.

“The psycho-social issues that often go to the heart of their identity, may include high end psychological depression, despair, self-destructive behaviours, dejection and negative self-image.”

In his five years of research, Mr Georgatos has sat with hundreds of families whose lives have been affected by suicide. He says those families want to tell their stories to a royal commission to validate their experience.

Inquiry into Indigenous youth suicide across the Pilbara
The West Australian government has announced it will hold a parliamentary inquiry into Indigenous youth suicide across the Pilbara and Kimberley regions.
Member for Kimberley 'urgently calls' for inquiry into youth suicides
Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer moves a motion in the Parliament of Western Australia for an inquiry into the alarming number of youth suicides.

If you believe that you, or anyone you know, might be at risk of suicide and needs support, please call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.