The death, believed to have been a suicide, of a colleague triggers whistleblower revelations of "yelling at staff, imposing unreasonable workloads, isolating staff, spreading rumours, putting people down" and a string of other allegations by a "repressive gang" in the Alice Springs office. EXCLUSIVE by ERWIN CHLANDA. Image from the DCF website.
Patterns of behaviour emerge from the sad stories of suicide. In the wake of the recent tragic deaths by suicide of five young Aboriginal people in our region, the Alice Springs News spoke to Craig San Roque, a psychotherapist and member of the steering committee of Life Promotion, Central Australia's suicide prevention program. He has had experience over many years of collaboration with Aboriginal people, in particular with traditional healers. He speaks of the problems using the image of the hand.
"For some people suicide is structural, like the back of their hand, with them all the time as a meditated, premeditated action, though it may be disguised, covered over with a skin." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Suicide is a new and growing problem for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The only detailed published study, looking at data from 1981 to 2002, shows that there was only one suicide by an Indigenous man in the NT in 1981, in contrast to seven that year by non-Indigenous men. In the 22 year period the first suicide by an Indigenous woman was not until 1991, while between one and three by non-Indigenous women had been recorded in every year since 1984 and four were recorded that year.
The study by Mary-Anne Measey, Shu Qin Li and Robert Parker was published in 2005 by the NT Department of Health and Community Services. It reports that the rate of suicide amongst men in the NT, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, increased during the 1990s and early 2000s, while the Australian rate remained stable. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Drawing by Sue McLeod for Suicide Stories: Feeling unloved and surrounded by grog abuse and violence.
With the funeral of a nephew who took his own life fresh in her mind, MLA Alison Anderson in last night's Legislative Assembly debates asked for a breakdown of statistics on suicide in the Northern Territory. She wants to see what the picture is in urban, rural and remote settings, suspecting that, from her experience, young people in remote communities are more vulnerable.
The nephew buried last week in Mutitjulu was the second in Ms Anderson's family to suicide this winter. The second young man took his life in a suburban street of Alice Springs. He was buried in Hermannsburg on the same day as his father, who Ms Anderson says died from alcoholism. PICTURE ABOVE: MLA Alison Anderson at a rally this year outside Parliament during its sittings in Alice Springs. By her side is Councillor Mildred Inkamala (pink shirt) of the MacDonnell Shire Council. KIERAN FINNANE reports.