National

Shocking Vic report on Indigenous suicide

By AAP Newswire

Indigenous Victorians have died by suicide at twice the rate of the rest of the population in the past decade.

Nearly two-thirds of Indigenous Victorians who take their lives had experienced abuse before their deaths, while a quarter experienced bullying, a report by Victoria's Coroner's Court has revealed.

Between January 2009 and April this year, 117 Indigenous Victorians took their own life.

They are among 7000 Victorians who died by suicide in that period.

The figure means Indigenous deaths from suicide make up 1.6 per cent of deaths, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 0.8 per cent of the state's total population.

The report reveals Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced higher rates of contact with the justice system, substance use and interpersonal stressors before their deaths, compared to non-Indigenous Victorians.

Figures up to 2016 reveal 62 per cent had been diagnosed with mental illness prior to their death, compared with 55 per cent of all Victorians.

A quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced bullying compared to 12 per cent of all Victorians.

Thirty-six per cent experienced family violence with a partner, compared to 16 per cent of all Victorians, and 82 per cent experienced substance use or misuse compared with 47 per cent of all Victorians.

Abuse was experienced by 62 per cent of Indigenous Victorians prior to their deaths, compared with 33 per cent of all Victorians.

Indigenous Victorians were also more likely to have experienced conflict with a partner or family members, family violence, substance abuse or misuse and legal issues prior to their deaths, compared with Victorians overall.

The report shows a spike in Indigenous deaths from suicide in 2018 and 2019, but notes it's unclear if the figures represent an actual increase or if it can be attributed to increased identification.

The court employed Troy Williamson as Koori Family Engagement Co-ordinator last year.

"This is valuable data. It can inform existing programs and strengthen our communities' culturally safe response to Aboriginal wellbeing," he said.

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