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Community response applauded after teen suicide cluster

DESPERATE SEARCH: Two missing Rockhampton girls are threatening to consume a cocktail of drugs.
DESPERATE SEARCH: Two missing Rockhampton girls are threatening to consume a cocktail of drugs. Thinkstock

A STATE Coroner has recommended the community response to a cluster of six teen suicides in Mackay during 2007 and 2008 be adopted in other parts of the state.

Coroner Terry Ryan said the co-operation between government and community organisations following the deaths had gone a long way to identifying and assisting at-risk youths, especially those from an indigenous background.

He made specific mention of the establishment of Headspace in Mackay following the deaths.

The organisation has assisted more than 600 at-risk youths since it opened in February 2013.

The recommendations come following an inquest in June 2011 into the deaths of two Mackay teens that committed suicide in 2008.

APN Newsdesk is prohibited from publishing the names of the teens due to a non-publication order.

Mr Ryan found the first teen, 16, died on August 27, 2008 at an address in Mackay following a prolonged period of paint sniffing with other teens.

The coroner said the teen's sibling had earlier assaulted him and he became separated from the group before taking his own life.

Mr Ryan said the second teen, 16, killed himself on December 20, 2008 at an address in Mackay - the same place one of his closest friends, 18, had committed suicide months earlier.

He found the teen, 16, was under the influence of alcohol at the time of his death.

Mr Ryan said on Tuesday the deaths of six young teens in Mackay over a short period had a devastating effect on the community.

"Suicide clusters are very rare," he said.

"It is clear the cluster of suicides not only affected the families and friends of the young people.

"The entire community of Mackay experienced a sense of crisis and loss, and sought to respond in a practical way and with a sense of urgency to prevent similar deaths."

Mr Ryan said since the deaths in 2008 there was a plethora of community services now available and the issue had state and federal attention.

He recommended the Mackay community response to the deaths be considered in the finalisation of the Queensland Suicide Prevention Action Plan due to be released later this year.

If you or someone who know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

- APN NEWSDESK.

Topics:  headspace mackay mental health suicide



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