A recent study on youth suicide has revealed an alarming rate among indigenous youth in Queensland, especially in remote areas such as Mount Isa.
The report, compiled for the Commission for Children, Young People and Child Guardian, shows an emerging suicide problem for Queensland teenagers between the ages of 10 and 17.
Queensland’s teenage suicide rate is now the worst since 2004 at 4.4 deaths per 100,000 for 10 to 14-year-olds and 5.5 deaths per 100,000 for 15 to 17 years.
The yearly average rate of indigenous suicide was 17.1 per 100,000, which is 5.5 times higher than the rate of 3.1 per 100,000 for non-indigenous suicide.
Beryl Buckby is a clinical psychologist at James Cook University in Townsville and has been working closely with the Mount Isa community for a number of years.
She is undertaking a study to better understand the reason for the alarming statistics.
Dr Buckby believes Mount Isa has the highest rate of suicide per capita in Queensland.
”What we are trying to do in Mount Isa in particular is find out how people in the Mount Isa community understand and think about suicide,” she said.
”It’s tackling the real problem at the grass roots, we could keep counting statistics until the cows come home, and not one person’s life is going to be saved.”
Dr Buckby said she hoped the research findings would pave the way to introducing appropriate community-based preventative strategies for suicide reduction.
In response to the alarming statistics, Centacare North Queensland has launched a new service Standby Response Service, a community-based program that provides 24-hour co-ordinated response to assist, families, friends, associates and witnesses who have been bereaved through suicide.
Standby North West Queensland co-ordinator Rachael Thorne said the service also aimed to raise awareness about suicide through Pathways to Care and Community Education workshops.
For more information, contact the StandBy office on 4749 8000 or the 24-hour crisis mobile number 0408 839 711.
Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline on 131 114, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.
This article first appeared on the North West Star on 15 January, 2014.