Suicide epidemic hits town

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 1996, 12:00am

The young people of the predominantly Aboriginal town of Yarrabah in far northern Queensland are making a drastic exit from a numbing cycle of poverty, violence and poor health. They are killing themselves.

Social workers say Yarrabah's young Aborigines, tormented by social deprivation and drug abuse, are seeing their funerals as the only status symbol available to them.

The result is an epidemic of suicides that has earned the township, 45 minutes' drive from Cairns, a reputation as Australia's suicide capital.

Last year, of the town's 2,900 people, an estimated 112 - or one in every 26 residents - either attempted suicide or displayed suicidal behaviour. Another five took their lives.