General News — 09 October 2012
Indigenous suicide rates “tragic, unacceptable”

Suicide rates among Indigenous Australians are tragic and unacceptable, the national depression and anxiety initiative beyondblue said today.

Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said research showed the suicide rate in Indigenous Australians was about 70% higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

She said this showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were failing to get the information, services and support they needed.

“Not only is this a tragic situation, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” Ms Carnell said in a statement.

“We know that untreated depression is a risk factor for suicide.

“If people don’t know the signs and symptoms of depression, and that it’s an illness which can be treated, then they’re not going to seek help.

“Therefore, they remain undiagnosed, untreated and at greater risk of suicide.”

Ms Carnell’s comments came ahead of World Mental Health Day tomorrow.

Beyondblue plans to mark the day by holding a roundtable of community members, service providers, peak bodies and researchers to discuss ways to send key mental health messages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It said the roundtable would aim to determine:

* Ways to get mental health information to Indigenous people

* Ways to reduce stigma around mental health problems and promote awareness

* Key messages and culturally-relevant information resources

Ms Carnell said data suggested that two thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults reported having good mental health while one third reported “high to very high” psychological distress – more than twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians.

As firs appeared in Medical Observer, 9 October 2012

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