Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre

John Ashfield PhD: Preventing Suicide in Indigenous Communities

john ashfield

This booklet contains information for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous health professionals, community leaders and key community members seeking to gain better knowledge about suicide prevention in Aboriginal communities. 

Life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men is on average 11 years shorter, and they suffer worse health outcomes than Non-Indigenous men. MENGAGE fully supports the work of John Ashfield, PhD improving efforts in suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.


Key Facts About Male Indigenous Suicide

  • Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Nearly 80% of all suicides in Australia are male, with over 60% dying on their first attempt.
  • Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males (15-19 years) are over 4 times more likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous young Australian males.
  • In rural and remote areas the risk of suicide is much higher than in urban populations, with indigenous males being most at risk.

The majority of Torres Strait Islander suicides are males, and although this is the case little effort has gone into understanding the experience and psychology of males in current suicide prevention efforts. Researchers, program developers and funding bodies do not often give this much consideration. Any initiatives must be sensitive to local communities and arising from them. Outside resources will be more effective if they support initiatives within communities, by the communities themselves.

More knowledge from research and evaluation of existing suicide prevention programs is needed to ensure the most effective solutions, including sufficiently resourcing current efforts that appear to be working.

This resource contains sections about:

  • Community, family and individual risk factors that may increase the likelihood of suicide and how to respond.
  • How health professionals, services and intervention can better reach out to, engage with and support Indigenous males.
  • How programs can be developed or adapted to better suit the needs of Indigenous males.
  • Common distress and self-harm warning signs.
  • Helping someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.
  • Practical tips how to help.

This booklet can be ordered from the You Can Help Publisher Website


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