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A report, Deaths of children and young people Queensland 2012-13, recently released by the Queensland (Qld) government, has revealed the alarming number of youth suicides across the state.
The report, published by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian, says suicide is the leading cause of death for Indigenous children aged 10-14 years and the second highest for Indigenous teenagers aged 15 to 17 years. Indigenous children in the state make up half the number of child suicides between the ages of 10 and 14 years, with suicide rates among Indigenous children and teens in Qld being five times higher than non-Indigenous children of the same age group.
Selwyn Button, the CEO of Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council says there are many factors that could lead to higher suicide rates in the Indigenous community. 'Poverty, disadvantage, lack of aspiration, lack of education, engagement in schooling and other activities. Those things do already exist and those things are having a big impact on what goes on in the communities.'
Mr Button says a lot of the issues around suicide, such as cultural identity and social pressures, are carried out online. 'Some of the biggest things that we're seeing across communities in Queensland is the impact of social media,' he says. 'Certainly what's happening in terms of bullying and harassment and a lot of the stuff that goes on where people are using social media to focus attention on individuals and using that as a means to certainly intimidate people.'
Cleavon Davis, a suicide prevention coordinator at Gallang Place, says young members of Indigenous communities need to find coping mechanisms in order to reinstate their confidence. 'Getting the young fellas to engage in cultural activities, putting culture in the schools as well. Having the culture to come along that's a part of us, to learn, to be involved to participate in it can help that person to be more productive in wanting to learn and wanting to be more stable in their lives.'