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Suicide crisis among indigenous Australians tests rural services

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4652 (Published 24 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4652
  1. Paul Smith
  1. Sydney

A psychiatrist working in one of the world’s worst suicide hotspots has said that identifying people at risk is like “capturing lightning in a jar.”

Murray Chapman is clinical director of the Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service, which is based in Broome in remote northwestern Australia, more than 2000 km from Perth. Indigenous communities in the region are in the grip of a suicide crisis.

In March a 10 year old indigenous girl is believed to have hanged herself, in one of more than 20 recent suspected suicide cases being investigated by the Western Australia state coroner.

Chapman, who is originally from the United Kingdom and has spent the past 14 years in the Kimberley region, said, “We know we [mental health services] can’t stop it on our own. We have a certain role. We save one or two, but we are standing at the bottom of a cliff. Trying to …

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