5 indigenous girls take own lives in 9 days
Five indigenous teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age have taken their own lives in the past nine days.
The most recent loss was of a 12-year-old Adelaide girl who died last Friday.
Three of the other cases occurred in Western Australia and one was in Queensland.
The spate of deaths, first reported by The Australian, is believed to have began on January 3, when a 15-year-old girl from Western Australia died in Townsville Hospital from injuries caused by self-harm. She had been visiting relatives in the beachside town.
A 12-year-old girl took her own life in South Headland, a mining town in WA, the next day.
On January 6, a 14-year-old also took her own life in Warnum, an Aboriginal community in the Kimberley.
Another 15-year-old indigenous girl is believed to have taken her own life in Perth's south last Thursday, according to The Australian.
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A 12-year-old boy is also on life support after what is believed to have been a suicide attempt. He remains in Brisbane Hospital where he was flown for treatment from Roma on Monday.
"Suicides are predominantly borne of poverty and disparities," said Gerry Georgatos, who heads up the federal government's indigenous critical response team.
Writing in The Guardian, he described rural communities as being disparate from the rest of Australian society, where high incarceration rates infect communities, few complete schooling, employment is scant and "all hope is extinguished".
He also said sexual abuse and self harm played a role in the suicides, with the recent spate taking the lives of young girls being "notable".
The West Australian Government has advised that co-ordinators have been installed in every region of the state, alongside Aboriginal mental health programs.
These programs were introduced after a 2007 inquiry into 22 suicides across the Kimberley. The inquiry found the suicide rate was not due to mental illness such as "bipolar or schizophrenia" and that Aboriginal suicide was not for the most part attributable to individual mental illness.
It noted that the suicide rate, which had "doubled in five years", was attributable to a governmental failure to respond to many reports.
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