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First Nations suicide is not just an issue, it's a 'humanitarian crisis'

"Of all middle and high income nations with a recent colonial oppressor history, Australia has the widest divide of its measurable indicators between first peoples and the rest of the nation."

Aboriginal Youth suicide

Neda Vanovac AAP 14 July 2015

First Nations suicide rates are a humanitarian crisis, an campaigner says.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) is assessing the effectiveness of existing suicide prevention services and programs.

Community consultant Gerry Georgatos has told AAP around Australia "in the last year we've buried an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 13-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old, a 17-year-old".

The Northern Territory and Western Australia have some of the highest median wages in the world but also some of the highest rates of poverty, he said.

"What we have in this country, the 12th largest economy on the planet, is an inequity that's not visible in any other country in terms of its disparity," he said.

"Of all middle and high income nations with a recent colonial oppressor history, Australia has the widest divide of its measurable indicators between first peoples and the rest of the nation."

Stirring acceptance speech from NAIDOC Person of the Year - Rosalie Kunoth-Monks

ATSISPEP held a roundtable for more than 40 service providers in Darwin on Monday and NAIDOC 2015 Person of the Year Rosalie Kunoth-Monks said subtle assimilation policies were driving extraordinarily high rates of indigenous suicide.

"The assimilation process so far has failed, has failed to the extent that people are taking their own lives because they've been made to feel second-class; they've been made to feel less of a human being then the rest of Australians," she told AAP.

She said Aboriginal people in remote communities needed to be placed front and centre when it comes to developing strategies to fight suicide.

Enough is enough: give us back our responsibility and I guarantee within a decade we will have brilliant black Australians accessing whatever they want to access, not only within Australia but throughout the world.

ATSISPEP will hold its sixth roundtable in the Kimberley and will report back to the federal government by the end of the year.

First Nations Suicide by Numbers

 While the national rate of suicide is 10.6/100,000 people, in the NT it's 68/100,000 and in the Kimberley and Far North Queensland it's 70/100,000, higher than any national trend worldwide

 One in 20 indigenous people suicides each year, but ATSISPEP argues it's closer to one in 10 because of under- and mis-reporting of deaths

 One in three indigenous suicides occur in the NT

 Suicide is the leading cause of death for indigenous people aged under 35
(SOURCE: ATSISPEP, July 2015)

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or a Local Aboriginal Medical Service available at www.vibe.com.au