• Indigenous children need their voices to be heard on the issue of suicide. (AAP)Source: AAP
An Aboriginal teenager from WA's far north who tried to take her own life twice says young people must be involved in the design and delivery of suicide prevention programs.
16 Aug 2017 - 4:53 PM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2017 - 4:53 PM

The young woman from a Kimberley community gave evidence at an inquest into a cluster of suicides involving 13 Indigenous youngsters in the region over three- and-a-half years.
   
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stressed that governments must listen to young people who can act as mentors for troubled kids.
 
"There's a lot of potential out there... but they're not really given the chance to step up," she told WA Coroner Ros Fogliani in Kununurra.
 
Rocked by a spate of deaths in her family and exposure to domestic violence, the young woman dropped out of high school, went on welfare and developed depression.

"Someone who knows, who's been through it and has come out the other end would mean so much more."  

She said mental health experts need to be more culturally competent, adding that after her first attempt at self-harming a non-Indigenous counsellor told her to stay away from certain relatives.
   
"But as an Indigenous person I could never turn my back on my family," she said.
   
"Someone who knows, who's been through it and has come out the other end would mean so much more."
   
The teen has since turned her life around and is now advocating for a holistic approach to healing.

  

She said it's difficult for young people to access mental health services in remote locations where stigma is still strong, and recommended home counselling visits to respect privacy.
   
"That's one of the reasons people don't go, because they feel ashamed," she said.
   
The teenager called on the WA government to expand initiatives to get at risk Aboriginal kids reconnected with the land and their culture.
   
She also wants a local youth advisory committee to set up programs for personal development and to build confidence in vulnerable children.
   
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS

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AAP