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Summit called over suicides
Robert Eggington, director of Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation at Clontarf and his wife, Dumbartung project officer, Selina Eggington, in the Mourning and Tribute Room they have set up, lined floor to ceiling with photographs of those who have lost loved ones to suicide or homicide. Their 27-year-old son Robert took his own life in August 2009. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian.

A Perth Aboriginal corporation has organised a "crisis summit" for next month in response to what it says is an alarming sudden rise in indigenous suicides during the past four months.

Robert Eggington, director of Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, said it heard "almost fortnightly" from communities about a suicide, usually of a young person.

He said about six weeks ago a young girl, who he believed was 15, had taken her own life. He said the ages of those taking their own lives went through to men in Perth in their early 30s.

"In Mowanjum (near Derby) the other day there was another death, of a 12-year-old girl," Mr Eggington said. "One woman in Esperance has lost three children to this epidemic."

The corporation has invited State and Federal governments, WA Police and judicial figures to a three-hour meeting on May 21 to discuss the current strategies and funding for suicide prevention.

"The question must be asked, if these services are working, why then are the statistics and the death rate of our people through suicide remaining at the highest in the world," Mr Eggington said.

He and his wife Selina, who runs an Aboriginal loss and grief program at the corporation based in Waterford, lost their 27-year-old son Bob three years ago when he took his own life.

Mr Eggington said the lack of support for grieving families had prompted the creation of a "mourning room", with pictures of applicants to the State Government's Redress scheme for abuse victims, many of whom had been affected by suicide.

Premier Colin Barnett last week admitted the billions of dollars the Government had spent on Aboriginals was not achieving the improvement it wanted, prompting it to create an Aboriginal affairs Cabinet subcommittee.

"State Government expenditure on services for Aboriginal people was about $2.3 billion in 2010-11, or approximately $30, 000 per person," the Premier told Parliament on April 17.

"Despite this reform and investment, outcomes for Aboriginal West Australians are unacceptable.

"Mortality rates are 2½ times higher and suicide rates are three times higher."

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton and Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier said they could not attend the crisis meeting between noon and 3pm because the Legislative Council was sitting from 3pm.

They will send representatives.

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide call Lifeline on 13 11 14