Here's an important article from one of my favourite writers about a terribly sad event. It appeared in the Guardian.
"When is enough enough? What does it take to snap us out of our complacency? How many needless deaths does it take to tell us that Indigenous Australia is in deep, deep crisis?
My mind is flooded with these questions this day as I ponder the suicide of a 10-year-old girl in Western Australia. She is one of so many. Nineteen people have killed themselves in remote parts of the state since December. She is the youngest.
Ten years old. Think about that. Someone’s daughter. A child who came into the world with the joy of all newborns. A child who first smiled, who spoke her first words, who said “mum” and “dad”. A child who laughed her first laugh, who took her first step, who held the hands of her parents as babies do, tiny hands tightly gripping a finger. All of this potential, all of this love, all she could have brought to the world: all of it gone.
I can’t speak to the specifics of this girl’s life or death, but I can say she was born into the sadness that too often is our world. She was born into the intergenerational trauma of so many black families. This was her inheritance. In just 10 years this girl who should have been skipping in the playground, singing along to herself in the mirror, still playing with dolls, her mind on the distractions of childhood, instead decided that her world was so bleak she no longer wanted to live.
Look to your children this day and think about that. Then ask: how we can possibly look away?
I have spent these last weeks travelling Australia speaking to people about how we - Indigenous people - live with the weight of our history.
We are connected directly to the darkness of our past. We are born out of the legacy of dispossession and suffering and injustice. The crippling malaise that sits at the heart of so many black communities and lives in this country is seeded in that still unresolved grievance that underpins the Australian settlement: Terra Nullius.
Our land was deemed empty we as a people were denied the fundamental rights that pertain to all humanity. Those things that are self evident – equality and dignity.
The high court may have ruled in favour of native title, but the original sin of dispossession and the subsequent despair and poverty casts a dark, menacing and long shadow.
Our lives are shaped by the great forces of history as surely as the lives of peoples of other lands: those who live with the legacy of war in Afghanistan or Syria or Iraq, those hidden behind secrecy and propaganda in North Korea or those emerging from a fractious troubled century of humiliation to grasp the China dream. I have seen it all as a reporter and I have lived with those same forces here in our country.
As surely as the sons and daughters of the first fleet and the most recent migrants to our shores embrace and enjoy this country’s countless blessings, the original people of this land far too often endure lives of pain and misery.
This is our history - it is alive and it is real and it is pernicious. It is so close we can touch it. We wear it in our bodies in physical scars and we wear it deep in our souls in wounds not so easily seen.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us Indigenous children are nearly nine times more likely to take their own lives than non-Indigenous children. It is the leading cause of death for Indigenous people aged 15 to 35 who kill themselves at three times the rate of other Australians.
I don’t seek to excuse our own failings: the scourge of domestic violence, the abuse and addiction are confronting and our complicity where it occurs and the responsibility we all share can not be ignored. These are hard things with no easy answers. But let’s not forget where despair and hopelessness can spring from.
I occupy a position of privilege. I have seized opportunities, enjoyed the support and encouragement of others and for that I am grateful. But a ten year old girl has taken her life in our country, a girl whose identity and heritage connects to the same roots as my own and I can feel that deep wound inside me tearing again.
This is a mighty country and we have much of which to be proud. But it is a country in which the rates of suicide - black and white - are soaring. Every one of them is a tragedy beyond mere words and the families left behind must share a terrible bond.
A 10-year-old has taken her own life. She was one of my people, your people. Our people. She was a young Australian girl. My heart is heavy as I am sure is yours."
Years ago, there were very few, or no, suicides in Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal people did not have a word for 'suicide'.
Please take time to read the very important Elders Report on suicide. Please also check out our pages on Sharing Culture.
Finally, I ask the questions, "When are governments in Australia going to listen? When are they going to stop blaming Aboriginal peoples for the problems?"