The video was a campaign video. The campaign is called ‘Culture Is Life’. ‘Culture Is Life’ looks at tackling the issue of suicide and self harm in Indigenous Australians. The rate of youth suicide in Indigenous Australian’s is now the highest in the world. Yet according to BusinessInsider.com, Australia is one of the best places for young people to grow up according to a new index on the well-being of global youth. With an index score of .752 Australian youths enjoy the highest levels of well-being. The test was based of six connected domains — economic opportunity, health, education, safety and security, access to information technology, and citizen participation.
So if Australia is one of the ‘best places for young people to grow up’ why has the rate of suicide and self harm amongst the First Australians reached crisis levels, particularly in remote communities and particularly amongst the youth.
In the Northern Territory, Indigenous youth suicide is 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous youth. Suicide has become the 2nd leading cause of death for Aboriginal men in the NT after cardiovascular disease.
In the Kimberley of Western Australia, there has been an average of one attempted suicide every week since the start of 2012.
Suicide is an act of desperation, driven by a combination of life factors that negatively impact on that person’s social and emotional wellbeing. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, these factors are distinctively different from the rest of the population. They include:
• Unresolved historical and inter-generational trauma (Stolen Generation)
• Loss of cultural identity and spiritual connection to land
• Cross-cultural confusion and erosion of cultural resilience
• Family disconnection and isolation of youth
• Unemployment and lack of opportunities
• Welfare dependency
• Susceptibility to drug and alcohol addiction
• Ongoing racism and institutional prejudice
In order to treat these factors, a comprehensive and community driven approach is needed. Elders and community leaders are calling to lead in the process of healing their communities. The ‘proactive factors’ to do so include:
• Keeping culture and language strong
• Living on or maintaining relationship with traditional lands
• Bridging the divide between youth and Elders
• Culturally-appropriate job pathways and work opportunities.
These families are whirling in grief, and communities cannot deal with what many are calling ‘an epidemic of self harm’. There is something dangerously wrong, and imperative action needs to be made to repair the