News

It’s time to Close the Gap on Indigenous mental health inequality

16 March 2017

Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to throw a confronting spot light on the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reveals the Indigenous suicide rate is twice that of the broader community: 25.5 suicide deaths per 100,000 Indigenous people compared to 12.5 per 100,000 people for non-Indigenous Australians.

Latest ABS records show 152 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people took their own lives in 2015 and life expectancy remains 10 years less than non-Indigenous people.

Suicide was the leading cause of death among five to 17-year-old Indigenous children in 2015 and among those aged 15-34 between 2011 and 2015.

A lack of mental health support services in rural and regional areas compounded by a lack of culturally relevant early intervention programs contributes to higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide among members of our Indigenous community.

beyondblue calls on all Australians – across government, workplaces, schools, urban, rural and remote communities – to make a new commitment to improving health standards of our Indigenous friends, families and colleagues this National Close the Gap Day.

beyondblue board director and Kungarakany man Professor Steven Larkin said ABS statistics reflected “a national crisis” and inaction was unacceptable.

“These figures can no longer be ignored or rationalised, and sustained action and investment by governments is urgently required,” Prof Larkin said.

“Indigenous Australians do not experience mental health issues, such as suicide, for necessarily the same reasons as non-Indigenous Australians and, therefore, require (culturally appropriate) services."

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the ABS statistics were a "shocking insight" into the level of psychological distress in indigenous Australian communities. 

"This is not a matter of politics or agenda, we’re talking about people’s lives.”

To sign a Close the Gap pledge and for more information, go to oxfam.org.au/nctgd