MHACA has held a lead role in suicide prevention work in Central Australia since 2001 when the Life Promotion Program was established in response to community concern following an increase in youth suicides in the NT.
Despite ongoing work to improve suicide prevention efforts in Australia, there has been no significant reduction in the suicide rate over the last decade. In 2018, there were 3046 deaths by suicide, or an average of eight deaths by suicide each day. Approximately 75 per cent of people who die by suicide are male. Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 44 years and the third leading cause of death for people aged 45 to 55 years. The rate of suicide among males is more than three times greater than that for females.
Despite having the lowest number of suicide deaths, the Northern Territory has recorded the highest age standardised suicide rate (19.5 per 100,000 in 2018) of all the states and territories for over ten years.
The Northern Territory has the highest rate of suicide in Australia, and the level of mental distress for many Aboriginal people is very high. Whilst not an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, the Mental Health Association of Central Australia (MHACA) has more than 50% Aboriginal participants and is a strong advocate for raising awareness of the challenges that Aboriginal people with mental health conditions face.
MHACA has been the host of the Suicide Story program for the last 12 years, a suicide prevention program developed specifically with and for remote Aboriginal communities. It uses both-ways learning to guide understanding, reduce stigma and equip participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence to respond to suicide risk in their communities. The program is currently in transition to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation.
MHACA continues to be a leading member in the Life Promotion Network (LPN), a suicide prevention network in Central Australia which also meets bimonthly. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be placed on the email list.
MHACA is currently setting up a Suicide Bereavement Support Group in Alice Springs and is available to present on suicide prevention initiatives and actions that community members can take to better support those in mental distress. Please email email@example.com for more information.