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Keywords:

  • Aboriginal Australians;
  • mental health nursing;
  • parasuicide;
  • self-harm;
  • suicide

With reports of increased rates of suicide and parasuicide among Aboriginal people worldwide, the dual purpose of this background paper is to examine the literature on underlying mental health issues, as well as primary and secondary actions to try to minimize the risk related to this area among Aboriginal people nationally and internationally. The literature review contained in this paper has been developed upon the fundamental belief that prevention of mental health problems, mental illness and suicide should incorporate understanding of the factors that heighten the risk of these occurring and the factors that are protective against them, while simultaneously developing, disseminating and implementing effective interventions that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. To this end, continuity and integration of mental health care for rural Aboriginal people is attendant upon a whole-of-community and a whole-of-government response that respects the metaphor of cultural and linguistic experiences, as well as the mental health scope of practice.