Articles – The Centre for Independent Studies

Indigenous youth suicide, the canary in the mine

Sara Hudson

19 August 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre

A recent report on Indigenous suicide found the rate of suicide among young Indigenous men aged 25–29 was the highest in the world.

This alarming statistic should be a wake-up call to all Australians that something urgently needs to change.

According to the report, employment opportunities for young people had declined in every state and territory, with the Northern Territory recording a drop of 80% since 2006.

While some of the drop in ‘employment’ in the Northern Territory could be attributed to the dismantling of CDEP — a make-work program the Australian Bureau of Statistics used to count as employment — there are limited education and employment opportunities in remote parts of Australia.

The outcomes are never good for any group of people, deprived of individual property rights and education but showered with welfare. The high rates of dysfunction and suicide in Indigenous communities in Australia are also evident in First Nation Reserves in Canada.

People need love, a sense of purpose, and something to look forward to. Unfortunately for many remote Indigenous people, their relationships are frequently fraught with violence, they don’t have jobs, and life has taught them not to hope for much or dream of a better future.

Northern Territory politician, Bess Price, once copped a lot of criticism for pointing out the sad truth about many Indigenous youth — that they are much safer and healthier when they are in jail.

Despite the desperate need for suicide prevention initiatives in Indigenous communities, $17.8 million in government funds earmarked for Indigenous suicide prevention programs have not been used.

However, reducing the suicide rate of young Indigenous men will require more than just suicide prevention programs, it will also require ensuring their lives are better outside prison than they are in.

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