Rural Sector News Suicide — 13 April 2016

In Canada, the Chief of the First Nations Attawapiskat community has declared a state of emergency because the rate of suicide among his people is out of control.

Adele Cox is a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of WA and a mental health and suicide expert with extensive experience working on prevention strategies.

She spoke with The Point about the current crisis in Canada and parallels with Australia.

“That particular community seems to have had long standing discussions around equality and greater government support especially in terms of broad social issues,” she told The Point.

“In recent years there have even been hunger strikes by that community to try and get the former Canadian government to take action on health and education.”

Ms Cox said communities and governments need to be on alert for early warning signs of a potential suicide.

“Suicide is incredibly complex, and it can be triggered by any number of things,” she said.

“So really all we can do is be vigilant. We do also need to try to help indigenous communities identify the warning signs and coach them on what to do if they come across them.”

Media attention is quite often the only call to action on Indigenous suicide said Ms Cox, who described similarities between Canada and Australia.

“Aboriginal Suicide in Australia has been like an epidemic and Nigel Scullion championing change also shows that there are underlying issues and that we are at a crisis point.”

“The attention on these issues sadly isn’t there until the media suddenly does start to report incidents. There are certainly similar issues and it’s definitely happening at alarming rates.”

However despite the often negative tone to discussions around Indigenous suicides, Ms Cox said there is a lot of positive work being done on the ground by communities.

“I want to highlight that we have some great communities out there that are addressing these issues and they are tackling them head on,” she said.

“There are also lots of good things that are being doing to prevent suicides from happening. It’s important to note that things are being done throughout our communities to combat suicide, rather than just doing nothing.”

This article first appeared on ‘NITV’ on 12 April 2016.

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