Finding new ways to prevent Indigenous youth suicide

Youth councillor Sabrina-Ann Stevens (ACBC)

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) is looking for new ways to support rural and regional communities to prevent youth suicide. Source: ACBC Media Blog.

The tragedy of youth suicide was a major subject of discussions at the recent NATSICC assembly in Perth, where more than 300 delegates gathered from throughout Australia to explore the theme “Strong Faith – Strong Youth – Strong Future”.

NATSICC national youth councillor Sabrina-Ann Stevens, from Cairns in Far North Queensland, said youth suicide was a major issue within regional and remote communities.

The suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is more than twice that of non-Indigenous Australians. National statistics also show that Indigenous people tend to take their own lives at a younger age, with the majority of deaths occurring before 35.

“The delegation at the assembly shared the view that the issue of youth suicide is one of the most important challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia today,” Ms Stevens said.

“Unemployment and the general high expense of living outside of a major city or regional town isolates many youths. There’s a sense of hopelessness if there’s limited jobs.

“Within the youth section of NATSICC, we already have a national connection between different communities and we can help to empower other youths, especially from our talks at the assembly.

“I think if young people had a greater connection with their spirituality and their faith, then I think they can overcome whatever struggles they’re facing because they’re meant for more — a higher purpose within their Indigenous communities, as well as in their faith community.”

Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders, who is a consultant to the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, has been a part of the Kimberley community for more than 40 years. He has seen the rise of youth suicide.

“We have had a considerable problem. As to why there is such a terrible rate of youth suicide in Australia and in remote Australia, this is extremely complex,” he said.

Building spiritual and faith-based connections in communities was one part of the answer to breaking the cycle, Bishop Saunders said.


New focus on Indigenous youth suicide prevention (ACBC Media Blog

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