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Giving Compass' Take:
• Madeleine Keck describes how a forced loss of cultural identity has put Indigenous Victorians at a much higher risk of suicide than the non-Indigenous population.
• How do centuries of cultural oppression impact the mental health of Indigenous populations? What can we do to support ending systemic racism for Indigenous Victorians and other Indigenous populations?
The rate of Indigenous Victorians who have died by suicide in the past decade is double that of the state’s non-Indigenous population, according to the Australian Associated Press.
The report noted two-thirds of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander individuals experienced abuse before their death, a fourth were victims of bullying and 82% experienced substance use or misuse — all significantly higher figures than for non-Indigenous people.
Jill Gallagher, the chief executive of Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, has demanded an independent inquiry into Aboriginal suicide in the state and for the government to immediately commence talks with the Indigenous health sector to discuss solutions.
"Improving clinical services and responses remains critical, but our responses must go much deeper,” Gallagher told SBS. “We know that Aboriginal youth suicide especially is not solely a mental health issue — it is an outcome of complex, interrelated factors that are rooted in intergenerational trauma.”
Gallagher added: "We need urgent answers. Solutions focused on family healing, prevention and postvention support."
The Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association claim the prevalence of mental illness among Victoria’s Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous peoples around the country, is linked to loss of culture, identity and land as well as poverty and racism.
"The prevalence of mental health within Victorian Aboriginal communities can be directly related to the loss of land, culture, identity, self-respect, self-worth and the breakdown of traditional roles within communities,” the association wrote in a submission to the royal commission on mental health in Victoria in 2019. “Systemic racism has been a significant factor in ensuring Aboriginal communities remain fragmented and disjointed and has supported the social isolation, trauma and depression of many Aboriginal communities’ members.”
Read the full article about Indigenous Victorians by Madeleine Keck at Global Citizen.
If you are feeling suicidal, please get help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or use their text or chat line. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.