Homicide and suicide rates higher within indigenous communities

Posted August 3

A new study has found that indigenous Australian mothers are 17.5 times more likely to be victims of homicide, which claimed a quarter of them who died in Western Australia between 1983 and 2010.

The Telethon Kids Institute study also found mothers who are aboriginal or native to the country they live in to be 3.4 times more likely to die from suicide and 6.4 times more likely to die from accidents.

Most of these deaths could be explained by poor socioeconomic circumstances and residential location, but domestic violence is an underlying issue in indigenous communities.

Last year, ABC noted domestic abuse of indigenous women had become a national crisis with indigenous women being "34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than their non-Indigenous counterparts."

Josephine Cashman, an indigenous lawyer and member of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, quoted an unreleased Australian Crime Commission that reported "domestic violence is the major form of crime in indigenous communities, and that it often involves weapons, which is regularly underreported."

Perth Now noted indigenous mothers are a "particularly at-risk group and require high levels of support."

The study also found indigenous children were more likely to experience the loss of a mother in their first five years.

"Trauma in early life can also lead to onward problems with substance abuse, self-harming, suicide, anti-social behavior and other adversities into adulthood," according to the study.

Researchers noted the need for further investigation into indigenous communities to find exact reasons for the disparity in those mothers compared to other mothers.

According to BBC News, Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders represent about 2.5 percent of the Australian population.

"Generations of disadvantage have left the country's indigenous population with low levels of education and employment," the broadcaster stated. "They are more likely to suffer from poor health than other Australians."

Australia is not the first country with high death rates among indigenous communities. An indigenous community in Ontario, Canada, has recently experienced multiple suicides.

According to The Atlantic, the Attawapiskat First Nation community of 2,000 people has high rates of poverty, where some families live in unheated trailers and tents.

"Since September of last year, more than 100 people there have attempted suicide, the youngest being 11, and the oldest 71, with one person dying as a result," the publisher explained.

The Atlantic also noted "suicide is the leading cause of death for indigenous young people and adults up to 44, according to Health Canada. Indigenous youth are five or six times more likely to kill themselves compared to non-indigenous youth."

There are multiple organizations aiming to help indigenous people who may be victims of domestic violence, have poor socioeconomic circumstance and high suicide rates.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health received funding by the Australian Government to help reduce suicide rates among indigenous people in 2014, according to the Telethon Kids Institute.

The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that addresses domestic violence and safety for Indigenous women.

"The NIWRC's staff brings decades of expertise, regarding violence and Native women, each of us having worked in various capacities to build a strong grassroots movement to increase response within tribes to domestic violence," the site read.


Twitter: megchristine5


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