Content Warning: This article discusses suicide
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged between 15 and 24 are almost four times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people the same age.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that, overall, suicides were slightly down last year compared to 2017 (3046 to 3128).
However, ABS Causes of Death 2018 report showed that for Indigenous Australians deeply disturbing trends remain.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Indigenous children aged between five and 17.
“Over the five years from 2014 to 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accounted for close to a quarter of all child suicide deaths (85 of 357 deaths),” the report says.
“The age-specific death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child suicide was 8.3 deaths per 100,000, compared to 2.1 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous children.”
Peak medical and health bodies have pressured Prime Minister Scott Morrison to declare Indigenous child suicides a national emergency after the deaths of five Aboriginal girls aged between 12 and 15 in January.
In a step towards tackling the crisis, chief executive of the National Mental Health Commission Christine Morgan was named Australia's national suicide prevention adviser.
In response to the latest figures she released a statement which said: "This number represents our loved ones, who live in our diverse communities in each state and territory, rural and remote and in our suburban towns.
“They are our family members—a friend or colleague whose life is precious to each and every one of us, and whose life and death leaves a lasting effect on us all.”
“One life lost to suicide is too many, which is why our commitment is towards zero. On the basis that approximately 135 people are affected by each suicide death, more than 400,000 Australians have been impacted in 2018; as a family member, friend, colleague, teammate, first responder, neighbour or treating professional. Suicide impacts on entire communities with a clear ripple effect.
She added: “The suicide rate for our first Australians remains distressingly high. The rate of death by suicide of Australian and Torres Strait Islander people remains close to twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians.”
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.