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Director: Yaara Bou Melhem | Producer: Yaara Bou Melhem and Tiffany Ang
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: Qatar
Subject Tags: australia, culture, education, health, indigenous rights, oceania
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
Young Aborigines are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians, some as young as eight. Experts and Aboriginal elders say a variety of reasons drive Aboriginal youth to suicide including a disconnection from traditional culture and land and a lack of resources. In Western Australia’s Kimberley region, suicide has reached epidemic proportions. There has been one suicide every week on average since the end of December. Many new projects are trying to stem the tide. Community rangers in the Kimberley are now being trained in suicide intervention as part of a rapid response team. The Balunu Foundation uses culturally appropriate methods to help build the self-esteem of at-risk youths. It organizes camps where 12- to 16-year-old youths can reconnect back to their land in what they term a “healing process.” Overwhelmed by youth suicide, the east Arnhem Land community of Ski Beach in the country’s north is taking matters into its own hands. An unfunded group of elderly women run a suicide night watch to stave off at-risk youths from harming themselves and is starting to see results. Dr Pat Dudgeon, Australia’s leading Aboriginal mental health practitioner is a Bardi woman from the Kimberley region. She’s starting Australia’s first national suicide prevention strategy that targets Aboriginals specifically. 101 East visits remote Aboriginal communities that have seen a spate of young suicides and looks at some of the desperate attempts by some of the worst-affected Aboriginal communities to save their young.

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