Why this expert wants us to talk more about suicide
A SUICIDE prevention expert has pleaded with authorities to stop hiding data on the Far North's suicide crisis, claiming children as young as seven have been trying to take their own lives.
National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos has flown from Perth to Cairns to attend this week's FNQ Suicide Prevention Week.
The week, which will involve a conference, men's' health forum and social activities, will be attended by actor and indigenous rights campaigner Ernie Dingo.
Mr Georgatos said he had timed the trip, after he had been contacted by two families with children who had recently attempted suicide.
He said one of the cases involved a seven-year-old indigenous boy, demonstrating a need for more mental health outreach services in the Far North.
"The most important thing is, there needs to be (mental health) capacity to address that," he said.
"That external support capacity wasn't there for the family on a 24/7 basis, or accessible."
Figures obtained from police last year showed a total of 60 people took their own lives in the region during 2017, most of these in Cairns, up from 50 the year before.
However the Queensland Police Service no longer releases suicide statistics for the Far North, instead deferring questions to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, whose latest FNQ figures are two years old.
A QPS spokesman said any suicide statistics that may arise for the region were the legal property of the State Coroner.
He warned that the reliability of suicide data and statistics were affected by a variety of factors and needed to be used with caution.
Mr Georgatos, however, said there needed to be as much information about suicide as possible in the public domain, including statistics.
"I think as much information as possible should be released," he said.
"Unless we describe deficits, unmet need, and the extensiveness of an issue, we will not actually galvanise a response of any significant level from our governments."
If you or someone you know needs help call Lifeline on 13 11 14.