The following letter by Bill Bush was published in the Canberra Times on 24/1/2017
Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR) applauds the Capital Health Network (CHN) for making a detailed study of ACT suicide prevention services.
Marginalisation is at the heart of suicide and self harm. CHN will do an inestimable service to the ACT community if it casts a light into the darkest and most challenging corners of ACT policies that create and intensify the conditions of anomie linked to mental health issues and suicide.
CHN’s Gaylene Coulton is absolutely right that priority should be given to hard-to-reach clients and the services, such as for drug and alcohol abuse, that are most likely to have contact with them: heavy drinkers – 3.5to 10 times depending on the seriousness of the disorder; opioid users – 13 times; intravenous drug users – 14 times; and poly-drug users – 17 times.
There are also prisoners at least two-thirds of whom suffer from both a substance abuse disorder and other mental health conditions.
Suicide in prison is now physically difficult but jumps sky-high in the first two weeks after release, which means the suicide rate of Indigenous Canberrans, over-represented in the correctional system, is disproportionately high.
Bill Bush, Turner