Suicide and mental illness rates amongst Indigenous Australians are significantly higher than that of non-Indigenous Australians. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population constitutes approximately 3% of the total Australian population as per the 2011 consensus (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). Of the approximate 700,000 people, 90% identify as being Aboriginal, 6% identify as being Torres Strait Islander and 4% identify as being both (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012). Although constituting a much smaller portion of the population, mental illness and suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are, on average 3 times higher than those of non-indigenous backgrounds (The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2016). This essay will identify and discuss the social and cultural factors that are associated with higher rates of mental illness and suicide and will discuss Closing the Gap.
It is important to note that ATSIs have a monumentally shorter life expectancy at birth compared to non-indigenous children. ATSIs are expected to live between 11 and 17 years less than the rest of the Australian population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016). The gap in life expectancy demonstrates a large number of generational issues relating to a range of different factors...
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...8th being of a 21 year old boy who committed suicide. All 8 funerals were due to premature and preventable conditions (Anderson & etal, 2012). This article is a perfect example of the real experiences of aboriginal communities, which is not commonly experienced by those of non indigenous communities.
In conclusion, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are a vulnerable minority group within Australia that have inherited a history of trauma, which is still continuing to carry on. There are a number of social and cultural factors that contribute to elevated rates of mental illness and suicide; all factors discussed have a substantial link between mental health issues and morbidity by suicide. Culturally specific intervention is integral and needs to continue to occur if there is any hope in closing the gap between life expectancy, education and economic disadvantage.
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