Preventing Suicide among Indigenous Australians

Silburn Sven, Belle Selkirk, Darrell Henry, Neil Drew

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Tis chapter begins with an overview of the recent epidemiological trends in suicide and attempted suicide for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and how this compares with the situation in other post-colonial English-speaking nations such as Canada, the USA and New Zealand. We then review qualitative studies exploring the meaning of suicide within the Indigenous community context, how these inform our understandings of suicidal behaviour and their value for informing preventive action. These highlight the individual, community or
situational factors which appear to be associated with increased risk for suicide and suicidal behaviour. Life-course studies of individuals who develop suicidal behaviour or complete suicide are also considered to identify the specific situations and processes that trigger or escalate suicidal behaviour. Recent Australian and international data indicate certain social circumstances, particularly contexts of ‘bereavement overload’, where suicidal behaviours may
become socially contagious, with ‘copy-cat’ suicidal behaviour. The chapter concludes with a discussion of what works in prevention, early intervention and post-vention including proactive bereavement support, containment of suicide clusters, as well as longer-term strategies for community healing following collectively experienced trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorking Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice
EditorsPurdie Nola, Pat Dudgeon, Roz Walker
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherAustralian Government Department of Health and Ageing
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-74241-091-3
ISBN (Print)978-1-74241-090-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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