$6m to tackle indigenous suicides in Western Australia

The Australian government has pledged 6million dollars over four years in the Kimberly region of Western Australia, for community-based suicide prevention strategies with and initial outlay of 1.5mil.

According to research the indigenous suicide rates in the Kimberley were the highest in the nation. The money has been set to help agencies to identify and respond faster to suicide clusters.

”The real challenge is that we do not have good systems in place to deal with emergency suicide clusters,” said Mental Health Minister Mark Butler

There will also be a review of the resources available to a two-person standby suicide response team based in Broome. The minister said funds would also be used to set up a psychiatric hotline providing expert advice for indigenous health workers confronted with life and death cases in remote communities.

The announcement comes two weeks after a report revealed that the tiny community of Mowanjum, near Derby, with a population of just 350, was at the heart of an extraordinary new spike in indigenous suicides across the Kimberley, recording six suicides in six months and scores of attempted suicides.

In the past 12 months there have been 25 suicides in the Kimberley region, 21 in the west around Derby and Mowanjum. The number of indigenous suicides last year exceeded the number of fatalities sustained by the Australian Defence Forces in Afghanistan.

A medical practitioner who worked in the region stated that Mowanjum  had no on-site counsellors or mental health staff. He also said there had been 10 suicides in Mowanjum in the past 12 months, including that of a 12-year-old girl and that the local hospital was simply far to ill-equipped and ill-resourced to handle it.

State Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said $800,000 would be spent on the Kimberley-wide community action plans and a further $9.4 million on a 14-bed mental health unit in Broome.

The full article can be found here: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/federal-budget/6m-to-tackle-suicides-20120506-1y769.html

Brock

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