5 September 2023
Mark Coles Smith, a Nyikina man and actor from Western Australia, has released a documentary called ‘Keeping Hope’ that addresses the alarming Indigenous suicide crisis in Australia.
Indigenous Australians are six times more likely to die by suicide than others. Coles Smith's motivation comes from a deeply personal experience: he lost his best friend to suicide when he was 23.
In the documentary, which premiered on SBS on World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) Coles Smith explores the widespread impact of suicide on Indigenous communities and criticises the Australian government's inadequate response. He highlights Indigenous-led suicide prevention programs, but laments their inadequate funding.
‘Suicide in Indigenous communities is now at epidemic proportions and it’s something we must talk about’ - Mark Coles Smith
The core message of the documentary is that there are successful Indigenous-led support services and strategies, but they need more support. Coles Smith also supports the Indigenous Voice in parliament as a potential means of positive change, despite some cynicism.
Ultimately, the documentary calls for action to address the Indigenous suicide crisis and improve the living conditions of affected communities. It's a powerful plea for society to take this issue seriously and provide the necessary support.
‘Keeping Hope’ is available to stream for free on SBS On Demand.
Watch a preview of the documentary here.