Globally, suicide is a leading cause of death. On average, suicide takes more life years than any other cause of death. According to the World Health Organisation, every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world. In 2014 the World Health Organisation produced the first report of its kind on global suicide rates and trends (for 2012). The World Health Organisation aimed to increase awareness of the public health significance of suicide and suicide attempts and to make suicide prevention a higher priority on the global health agenda, and to encourage and support countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive suicide prevention strategies with a multi-sectoral public health approach.
In general, suicide takes more lives than the combined total number of deaths of wars, civil strife, domestic violence homicide and other related unnatural deaths.
Nearly one million deaths around the world are registered as suicides but rightfully, because of under-reporting issues, it is estimated that are at least two million suicides According to the World Health Organisation’s 2014 report, the Australian suicide rate ranked 64th in the world. But the official suicide rate of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples – the First Peoples of the continent – when stood alone from the Australian population would rank equivalent to the world’s 12th highest suicide rate. The Kimberley’s and far north Queensland’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples endure the nation’s highest suicide rates and among the world’s highest suicide rates. Leading suicide prevention researcher, Gerry Georgatos, estimates that in fact that two regional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander populations do in fact endure the world’s highest suicide rate.
Georgatos reports that from a racialised lens Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples endure some of the world’s highest rates of disadvantage and harm. In Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are jailed at among the world’s highest rates. One in thirteen of Aboriginal adult males are imprisoned in Western Australia.
One in four of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander suicides occur in Western Australia.
Nationally, one in 19 deaths of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander deaths is a suicide and Georgatos estimates that in fact the official rate is an underestimation, and that the suicide rate is in fact around one in 12.
“If you are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander aged 15 to 35 years, one in three deaths is a suicide, this is an abomination – moral, political and otherwise. Australian Governments should translate this catastrophic humanitarian crisis into a national priority. There is no greater legacy that any Government can have, that any of us can have, than to improve the lot of others to the point of changing lives, saving lives,” Gerry Georgatos.