Community connection vital for suicide prevention and recovery; Northern Territory Minister Selena Uibo.

Danila Dilba Health Service Suicide Prevention Talking Circle-February 2024.

Content Warning: readers and listeners are warned that there may be words and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive, and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts.

Please contact 13 YARN (13 92 76) Lifeline 13 11 14 or your local health service/worker if you need support.

When our Elders tell us ‘No Shame’ when it comes to talking about our feelings so many of us still find it difficult to ask for help or say that we are overwhelmed by what is happening in our lives, community and our place in a world that many of us see is in crisis. We lose so many loved ones because people think they have nowhere to go with their issues.

Suicide was the leading cause of death for First Nations people aged 15 to 44 years in 2022. ABC Indigenous reports that only five of the nineteen Closing the Gap Targets are being met according to the latest data for 2024.

A target that is worsening, and not on track is Target 14: Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Support for Top End communities.

The Northern Territory government and the Northern Territory Primary Health Network are investing 3.3 million dollars for suicide prevention and recovery by supporting Danila Dilba’s Health Services with a new Healing and Recovery Service to meet the needs of families dealing with suicide and self-harm in some of the top end communities.

“The more people talk about what is going on for them the less isolated people will feel when dealing with their wellbeing”

Speaking with Kirstyn Lindsay the Northern Territory Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Selen Uibo is very clear about her passion for community connection and healing. With a cache of portfolios in her role as a Labor Member with the Northern Territory government, it was very clear that her heart is in the right place regarding community health and wellbeing. Selen Uibo says there is No Shame to talk about our worries and that this new healing Centre will provide support for people recovering from suicide attempts and/ or living with suicidal ideation. The Healing and Recovery Service will provide clinical and cultural practices around prevention and is a way forward to openly address this ongoing crisis in the community.

A celebration in community-Northern Territory Minister Selena Uibo Member for Arnhem and Minister Chancey Paech Member for Gwoja.

Minister Uibo says cultural inclusion and safety are what will make this service different to what is available in Darwin at the moment. The Centre will link families with wrap-around treatment services and provide support in First Language to prevent people from feeling isolated by the English language barrier.

Intergenerational and modern-day trauma
When I was preparing my questions for this interview I thought about the trauma and daily challenges that our all First Nations families and communities endure, alongside the ongoing impacts of racism, violence and segregation at the hands of colonial and settler culture, newer challenges like displacement due to the impacts of climate change and the remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic were topics I wanted to also raise in this interview.

Minister Uibo says people are still recovering from families missing out on funerals due to lockdowns and border closures, which is a big loss in culture for many families. She also shares that her community in river country in Arnhem Land has safety challenges travelling on Country when the big rains come in, family worry all the time about their loved one’s safety and food and freshwater affordability and security also add to the layers that First Nations people live within remote and regional communities.

‘everyone in community is important and has a role in continuing culture and family connections.”

No Shame, ask for help.

My final question to the Minister for Northern Territory Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Selena Uibo was if there was anything else she would like to say to the community. Her message ran deep for me when she repeated the words ‘No Shame’ when speaking up about our worries and asking for help! She asks people to reach out to family and services. “The more people talk about what is going on for them the less isolated people will feel when dealing with their wellbeing,’ she says ‘everyone in the community is important and has a role in continuing culture and family connections.”