People from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are identified as a priority population for suicide prevention in Australia.
Australia’s CALD population has unique identities and understanding of mental health and suicide. Multicultural differences, past trauma and experiences of discrimination are acknowledged and pertinent to effective suicide prevention strategy.
What we know about suicide in CALD communities
CALD communities have diverse views of suicide and suicidal thinking, and vary in the way that their community, family and friends respond to suicide. Quite often, a strong stigma surrounds the individual experiencing suicidal behaviours that may also affect their family, carer, friends and community. Spiritual and religious beliefs may contribute to this stigma, as well as social understanding and attitude toward mental health and suicide within a particular cultural community.
The role of family is crucial to the prevention of suicide within CALD communities. Family and social networks for many CALD people are key to both prevention and recovery of mental health conditions.
Protective factors against suicide for CALD individuals and communities include:
- religious beliefs
- negative views of suicide
- family and community cohesiveness
- for immigrants, the opportunity for new beginning
- increased resilience from past experiences
- being married (for men)
- being a parent.
Risk factors for CALD individuals and communities include:
- experience of trauma in the country of origin
- experience of trauma or negative incidents during the immigration process
- stress associated with integrating into a new culture
- isolation from family members and support networks who remain living within the country of origin
- change in socioeconomic status and income instability through loss of, or change in, occupation
- lack of access to health and support services due to language or cultural barriers
- discrimination and lack of social acceptance of CALD people within other Australian populations.
The diversity of CALD people
It is important that the diversity of CALD people and communities is acknowledged. There is no single CALD community and each has distinct needs. Consideration should also be given to other identity-driven needs and roles a CALD person may have that may overlap with other communities, including:
- LGBTI people
- people living in rural, regional and remote locations
- children and young people
- older people.
Information and resources for CALD communities can be found at Mental Health in Multicultural Australia
The causes of suicide are complex and multifaceted. It is important to acknowledge that a CALD person may never experience suicidal behaviours or thoughts. The presence of protective factors may reduce the risk of suicide.