Mediating Tragedy: Facebook, Aboriginal Peoples and Suicide

Bronwyn Lee Carlson, Terri Farrelly, Ryan Frazer, Fiona Borthwick

Abstract


Some Australian Aboriginal communities experience suicide rates that are among the highest in the world. They are also, however, avid social media users—approximately 20% higher than the national average. This article presents some preliminary findings from a current national study, funded by the Australian Research Council, titled Aboriginal identity and community online: a sociological exploration of Aboriginal peoples’ use of online social media. The purpose of the study is to gain insights into how Aboriginal peoples utilise and interact on social media, and how these technologies can assist with suicide prevention strategies. It found that Aboriginal people are engaging with Facebook to both seek and offer help for issues relating to suicide and self-harm. An existing continuum of suicide prevention strategies was evident—from light emotional support to direct suicide intervention involving health services. These strategies can be leveraged to implement effective and appropriate suicide prevention programs.

Keywords


social media; Indigenous; Aboriginal; social networking; suicide

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v19i0.1174

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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