ABORIGINAL SUICIDE IS DIFFERENT

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  • Every Australian's birthright includes the expectation of a healthy and possibly happy life of some longevity, assisted by all the services which a civilised society can make possible. But this is not yet within the Aboriginal (or Maori, Pacific Islander, Canadian Inuit and American Indian) grasp. That so many young Aboriginal people prefer death to life implies a rejection of what people in the broader Australian society, have on offer. It reflects a failure, as a nation, to provide sufficient incentives for young Aborigines to remain alive. This is a study of youth who have, or feel they have, no purpose in life -- or who may be seeking freedom in death. It is a portrait of life, and of self-destruction, by young Aboriginal men and women. To comprehend this relatively recent phenomenon, which occurs more outside than inside custody, one has to appreciate Aboriginal history -- the effects of which contribute more to an understanding of suicide today than do psychological or medical theories about the victim. Aboriginal youth at risk are suffering more from social than from mental disorder. Adopting a historical and anthropological approach to suicide in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand, this book documents rates of suicide that may well be the world's worst. It tries to glimpse the soul of the suicide rather than merely his or her contribution to our national statistics.

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