SPA Board Director Dr Vanessa Lee poses this important question for us all to consider in her latest Croakey opinion piece after attending the #WeBelong2016 International Forum on Life Promotion to Address Indigenous Suicide in Vancouver, Canada, November 2016.
Dr Lee listened to some of the challenges faced by Indigenous youth and the role that adults can play in helping them. She discusses language and approach, with a focus on ‘life promotion’ rather than the prevention of suicide when working with Indigenous people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is because there are no words for suicide in the language of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Dr Lee reflects on the WeBelong Forum puts forward the following suggestions:
- A call for Non-Indigenous organisations to work with Indigenous communities and organisations to improve access to services and to improve life promotion. Including continuous training and up skilling of staff towards being culturally competent to work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Due to the correlation between child sexual assault and suicide, funding for life promotion and suicide prevention should be directed to Indigenous community controlled organisations to work with culturally competent non-Indigenous specialists if there are no Indigenous sepcialists;
- Programs targeting males and the incarcerated population about domestic violence and child sexual abuse (for example the Good Touch Bad Touch program) should have elderly Indigenous women involved in the delivery; this was a preference that came out very strongly in the Forum. These programs can then be rolled out to women, children and youth by women of various ages.
We all have a responsibility to learn from one another, particularly those with personal lived experience of suicide who contribute to these forums, reports and recommendations. We can all take positive action to contribute to life promotion.
If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out.
The following services offer free crisis and counselling telephone and online support:
Lifeline Phone: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service Phone: 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Kids Helpline Phone: 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
MensLine Australia Phone: 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au
beyondblue Phone: 1300 22 46 36 www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support
For a more comprehensive list of services please visit www.suicidepreventionaust.org and click on the ‘Get Help’ button on our home page.