Locals take steps to lower the suicide toll

Elise Van AkenThe Kimberley Echo
Seven men from the Wyndham community attended the AMHFA training.
Camera IconSeven men from the Wyndham community attended the AMHFA training. Credit: Supplied

East Kimberley towns have taken proactive steps to curb indigenous suicide, with locals participating in mental health first aid workshops.

Wyndham embraced the latest round of Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid Training last month, with local men empowered by their new skills to respond to the mental health crisis.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than double the national number.

In 2018, suicide accounted for 5.5 per cent of all indigenous deaths, with 169 cases, compared with 2 per cent for non-indigenous people.

From February 25-29 Wyndham indigenous men from community groups and organisations learned about first aid action planning, teaching them to provide better initial support to someone experiencing mental health problems.

Topics included social and emotional wellbeing, anxiety, alcohol, depression, suicide and psychosis, taught by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services’ Zac Cox and KAMS Broome’s Michael Hajiali.

Mr Hajiali said the course also gave the men a chance to discuss mental-health obstacles faced in their community.

“Along with a better understanding of mental health, this course gave the men of Wyndham the opportunity to speak about their experiences and the issues they face in their community,” he said.

“Participants were highly engaged, showing that training like this is much needed and appreciated in their region.”

The training was requested by Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial Wyndham Community Liaison Officer Jean O’Reeri and was also supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, WA Primary Health Alliance and Country WA Primary Health Network.

The training is available for adults who live, love or work with Aboriginal people to enable them to feel more confident in identifying mental illnesses and providing initial ‘mental health first aid’ whilst supporting someone to access appropriate help.

The 14 hour course is usually delivered as a two day workshop. For further information, expression of interests can be sent to sewbadmin@kamsc.org.au

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails