Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

McPhee, R., Carlin, E., Seear, K., Lawrence, D., Dudgeon, P. (2021). Self-Harm in the Kimberley 2013-2018: a case for investing in culturally secure sentinel monitoring systems. Australasian Psychiatry.


Objective: To explore the rates and characteristics of self-harm across the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Method: Retrospective, cross-sectional audit. We obtained and descriptively analysed routinely collected self-harm data from the Kimberley District of the Western Australia Police Force (2014–2018) and the Emergency Department Data Collection (June 2017–December 2018). Variables included age, sex, Indigenous status, time of incident, and alcohol and drug use.

Results: The rate of emergency department attendance for self-harm was three times higher in the Kimberley than the rest of Western Australia. Both emergency department and police data showed a disproportionately high percentage of incidents involving Aboriginal people, with highest rates in the 15–19 and 20–24 year age groups. Almost 80% of self-harm events recorded by police involving individuals aged 25–50 years involved alcohol. Many selfharm incidents occurred in the evening and at night.

Conclusions: The rates of self-harm across the Kimberley region from 2014–2018 are unacceptably high. Increased funding and alignment of services to meet regional need are required as part of a holistic effort to reduce regional rates of self-harm.