An emotional Pat Dodson broke down during the Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project launch in Canberra, as he recalled a late night call informing him a young relative had committed suicide.
NITV Staff Writer

10 Nov 2016 - 1:48 PM  UPDATED 10 Nov 2016 - 1:48 PM

Youth suicide is an issue close to home for Indigenous politicians.

"There's nothing worse ... than to get a call in the middle of the night or the early hours of the morning from a relation, and most of us experience this as Aboriginal people, to tell you that someone has died, someone very young has taken their life," Labor Senator Pat Dodson told the launch of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project report in Canberra on Thursday.

Dodson was speaking about a beloved "12-year-old boy, whose parents found him hanging from a tree in the yard," he said, with tears in his eyes.

Even though he ignores the reasons that drove him to do that, he used the example as a way of highlighting the importance of the report.

"(It) is the work of people like yourselves, about people who are in pain, who are in loneliness, who are dejected."

Senator Dodson thanked Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion for his spirit of bipartisanship on the issue of Indigenous suicide.

Senator Scullion thanked colleagues from the coalition, Labor and the Greens for coming together to launch the report, commissioned a year and a half ago.

"What you see is a new way of doing business," he told reporters.

The research was commissioned as a response to questions over Scullion’s plans to address the high rates of Indigenous suicide, and how he was going to invest funds.

"I said 'well I don't know, because we don't know what works and what we don't know what doesn't work'," Scullion said.

He described the report as remarkable, saying the government will adopt all the recommendations which relate to the terms of reference.

The minister doesn't think more funding is required, but people need to know what their role and responsibilities are.

Health Minister Sussan Ley, who recently travelled to Broome for a round-table and will go back before the end of the year, said the burden of suicide falls unfortunately and unfairly on Indigenous people.

"We know what we need to do, we just have to work out how to do it," she said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the causes of the "epidemic" are deep and complex and he welcomed all parties working together.

Recommendations include making sure all Indigenous suicide prevention activities feature community-specific and community-led programs, as well as government support to train and retain more Indigenous people working in mental health.

The report indicates that Indigenous people identifying as LGBTI should also be represented on all government and mental health advisory forums.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Multicultural Mental Health Australia

Local Aboriginal Medical Service available from