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Australians Want A Royal Commission Into Indigenous Suicide Rates

A petition has reached more than 20,000 signatures.

12/07/2016 11:42 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:57 PM AEST
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Lena Andrews / Change.Org
Phillinka Powdrill committed suicide at 18.

Australians are calling for a Royal Commission into Indigenous suicide after with reports children as young as 8 are taking their own lives.

A 10-year-old Aboriginal girl took her life in a Kimberley community, a region with one of the worst suicide rates in the world, causing the state government to discuss a royal commission and now a separate Change.Org petition has raised more than 20,000 signatures in two weeks.

Petition creator and suicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos told The Huffington Post Australia statistics of Indigenous suicide was underestimated including the Australian Bureau of Statistics' 2010 finding that five percent of all suicides were Indigenous.

I've sat with thousands of families who've lost someone to suicide and I've not met a single family that does not want their story told.

"I estimate it's actually 10 percent," Georgatos told HuffPost Australia.

"Not all determinations will be classed as suicide -- there's an issue of under reporting -- but when you go out to these very remote communities, it's clear it is a national catastrophe.

"We're the 12th largest economy in the world, we're a very wealthy nation and we have a problem that's akin to third world countries."

The petition's been signed by National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recipients Dameyon Bonson, Mervyn Eades and Lex Wotton and has support from major Indigenous rights organisations.

Georgatos said families that had lost a relative to suicide were calling for change including Lena Andrews, whose daughter Phillinka commit suicide aged 18.

"I've sat with thousands of families who've lost someone to suicide and I've not met a single family that does not want their story told," Georgatos said.

"By not having a royal commission, we're denying the support they need, we're denying the outpouring they want. We're denying their stories."

Georgatos said Andrews provided him with the following quote about her daughter's death.

There was nobody there for us. We are living in neglect, in racism, forgotten by everyone.

Please allow our stories to be told at a royal commission.

Too many are dying too young.

Georgatos said he'd had contact with both sides of parliament and was waiting for action.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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