Reducing Suicide By Connecting To Culture – Aboriginal Child Artists of Carrolup: Healing Trauma
Suicide amongst Aboriginal peoples in Australia was almost non-existent a few generations ago. ‘When the first suicide occurred we didn’t have a word for it. In the Arnhem they had to find a new word for it.’ Elder David Cole.
However, today it is at one of the highest levels in the world. The problem, which is particularly prevalent amongst males aged 10 – 24 years old, continues to get worse in some Indigenous communities.
The destruction of Aboriginal culture by the colonisation process has played a key role in this youth suicide. Becoming disconnection from one’s culture can eradicate a person’s sense of self (or identity), their self-worth and their emotional wellbeing. They cannot function from their own cultural relatedness, or from the culture of the colonisers.
Loss of culture can attack at the very heart of who a person is. They feel they have no ownership of their past and no control of their future. They become a non-person.
In Australia, the Elders Report Into Preventing Indigenous Self-harm and Youth Suicide, published in 2014, stressed that the government’s top-down approach was not working. It still does not work today.