**Essential Reading – Indigenous Suicide Prevention #WSPD2014 #WSPD

World Suicide Prevention Day is this Wednesday 10 September 2014. Check out the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy & The Elders Report on Preventing Indigenous Self Harm and Youth Suicide. #WSPD

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National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy    
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pub-atsi-suicide-prevention-strategy

The Elders Report on Preventing Indigenous Self Harm and Youth Suicide.

http://www.cultureislife.org/#!elders-speak/cw9

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The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report; ‘Preventing suicide’ a global imperative’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) define suicide as, ‘the act of deliberately killing oneself. Risk factors include mental disorder (depression, personality disorder, alcohol dependence, or schizophrenia), and some physical illnesses, such as neurological disorders, cancer, and HIV infection. There are effective strategies interventions for the prevention of suicide’ (WHO website, 2014).

WHO recently released a report ‘Preventing suicide: a global imperative’. Read the report here; Preventing Suicide: a global imperative

The report is a first of its kind and aims to increase awareness of the public health significance of suicide and suicide attempts. It also aims to help make suicide a higher priority on the global health agenda, and to encourage and support countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive prevention strategies in a multi-sectoral public health approach. Here is a short clip from their campaign; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZfCbVQbRPs

The report outlines some of the biggest myths surrounding suicide. I noticed two specific myths. Firstly that ‘people who talk about suicide do not mean do it’. However the fact is that ‘people who talk about suicide may be reaching out for help or support. A significant number of people contemplating suicide are experiencing anxiety, depression, and hopelessness and may feel that they have no other option’. Another myth that jumped out at me is that ‘talking about suicide is a bad idea and can be interpreted as encouragement’. The report advises the fact that ‘given the widespread stigma around suicide, most people who are contemplating suicide do not know who to speak to. Rather than encouraging suicidal behaviour talking openly can give individuals other options or the time to rethink his/her decision, thereby preventing suicide’. Precisely what this blog is all about – providing people options to talk about their thoughts and providing them with a sense of support.

So how did Australia fair in this report? Well it seems our men are more likely to commit suicide with 1381 more suicides by men than women in the year 2012. In total, there were 2679 suicides in 2012, which is quite a large number of deaths by suicide for our population. Unfortunately there is no breakdown of Indigenous or non-Indigenous, however there would be no doubt that Indigenous Australians would make up a large number of these deaths.

The aims of the report are to help putting suicide on the global health agenda and hopefully this will lead to more discussions surrounding Indigenous suicide, which as previously mentioned is one of the highest in the world, and needs to addressed immediately.

Additionally, the release of the report ties in with World Suicide Prevention Day, which will be held on Wednesday 10 September 2014. The theme for WSPA is Suicide Prevention: One World Connected. There are many activities happening around the country, check out the WSPA events page on their website for more details; World Suicide Prevention Day

You can also join an online forum on Wednesday 10 September from 11am-12pm (AEST) to discuss what are our strengths and we can do better. Join Mike Munro and a panel of experts, register here – Registration for WSPA Online Forum

Great for Indigenous #SuicidePrevention Research – The Second Edition of Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

A great resource for researching Indigenous suicide. Many thanks to The Indigenist for the recommendation!

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The Second Edition of Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

After a long awaited 13 years, the new Second Edition of the best-selling methodology textbook is finally here.

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The Second Edition of Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith has been heavily updated with:
* A brand NEW Foreword
* Entire NEW Chapter 11
* Substantially revised chapter 5, 7, 8 and Conclusion

The Second Edition of Decolonizing Methodologies will be the essential textbook for anyone involved in researching indigenous people, and a classic text in research methodology.

To the colonized, the term “research” is conflated with colonialism; academic research steeped in imperialism remains a painful reality. This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research – specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as “regimes of truth.” Concepts such as “discovery” and “claiming” are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of…

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Every Day is R U OK? Day…

Every day is R U OK?

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Gavin Larkin was an advertising “creative” whose father, Barry, committed suicide nearly 20 years ago. He found himself trying to stop the pain of grief his family endured, and decided to do this by asking one question – “Are you OK?”.

In 2009, he established the R U OK? foundation to enable everyone, in all levels of society, to encourage and ask “Are you OK?”

Based on the work of Dr Thomas Joiner, who describes at risk people as having three dominant forces – a feeling of being a burden on others, a belief they can withstand a high degree of pain, and a disconnect from others.

Gavin used his advertising and marketing skills to establish R U OK? Day, an annual day give society permission to ask. He sadly passed away in 2011.
Sometimes we need reminding that health care workers are no different from the rest of society…

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Why do Indigenous Australians have the highest suicide rate in the world?

It is no secret that Indigenous Australians have one of the most, if not the highest, suicide rates in the world. As Gerry Georgatos explains in his article for the Independent, ‘Aboriginal peoples around the world endure disproportionate high rates of suicide, but Australia’s divide between its national average and its Aboriginal peoples is one of the world’s worst, with Australia’s Aboriginal youth suicide rate the worst. In total, Australia’s Aboriginal suicide rates are higher than those of every African country, third-world countries included, and higher than every country on the planet, with the exception of Greenland’ (Independent Australia, 2013) Read more here – ‘The Australian Aboriginal suicide epidemic’

But why is this?

From what I have researched, there is no simple answer. In fact, the reasoning behind this emerging crisis is complex and encompasses a number of different causes. However, I concluded that it all seems to relate back to one significant event of Australian history – colonisation. Colonization of this country was inevitable. However, the ways in which it was colonized has led to the injustices Indigenous Australians battle everyday. But it seems like our Prime Minister doesn’t think it contributed to much at all, he says it was one of the most defining moments in our history. Abbott recently said at an exhibition opening in Canberra that, “it was the moment this continent became part of the modern world. It determined our language, our law and our fundamental values. Yes, it did dispossess and for a long time marginalise Indigenous people”. What about the complex structures of communities, tribes, families, languages and laws that existed prior to settlement? But he doesn’t stop there, he goes on to say, “Noel Pearson frequently reminds us, modern Australia has an important Indigenous and multicultural character. Still it’s British settlement that has profoundly shaped the country that we are’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 2014). It is these particular comments, attitudes and complete disregard of Indigenous Australians that leaves us to feel lost, and without a sense of belonging or worth, which can ultimately lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

Colonization is not limited to Australian history. In fact, most colonized nations such as Canada, New Zealand and the United States have similar statistics. According to a report from Hunter & Harvey, high suicide rates can be attributed to, ‘the impact of the breakdown of cultural structures and historical processes associated with colonization’ (2002, pg.14). From colonization, many other key factors resulted and have had a flow-on effect into the present. They include dispossession, cultural and physical dislocation, racism, personal trauma and the ongoing effects of disadvantage. Although this is a universal issues amongst Indigenous peoples, it seems the Indigenous peoples of Australia are suffering the most and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be the focus of these blogs.

As a young Indigenous person today, I can see the different issues within Australian society and history that have led and contributed to the alarming rates of Indigenous suicide. As mentioned, colonisation of Australia has had significant impact upon the First Nations peoples, an impact that we still witness today. As well as the many other critical factors as mentioned previously; dispossession, racism, trauma, dislocation – all of these factors contribute to the feeling of hopelessness and no sense of belonging. Without these things, what have we got?

We know that suicide is suicide, and is tragic in all circumstances. But Indigenous suicide is different, the rates in which our people are taking their own lives, particularly our youth, is catastrophic and requires immediate attention from the Government. Although they have claimed it is a national health priority, the rates of  Indigenous suicide have only worsened. This is not just a few Aboriginal kids taking their lives here and there, this is happening everywhere particularly in the north, at a shocking rate. And the causes are institutionalized and entrenched into our society.  This needs to be addressed.

It is disheartening and upsetting to think that our people see no hope or future for them. But there is, and with the help of strong communities and families we can assist in curbing this epidemic by highlighting the great support services that are available. And more importantly, hear from survivors who have been through this terrible illness. To have a platform where we can share stories about suicide will only help in telling our mob that their lives are precious and worth living.