New suicide-prevention app embodies tradition

Elders at a remote Northern Territory community used culture and traditions to put an end to suicide in their community — and now they are planning to share their success with other communities through a high-tech app.

The Lajamanu community hasn’t had a suicide since 2005 when a particularly upsetting death led it to create a festival promoting the ideas of ‘Kurdiji’, which means ‘shield’.

The festival promotes the belief that if ceremony, skin name, language and law are strong, the individual is also strong.

Warlpiri elder Wanta Jampijinpa said the knowledge of the elders would be instilled in the app, which would hopefully save lives elsewhere too.

“To us it’s (about) how do you really look at yourself and how important and precious you are,” he said.

The app, to be called Kurdiji, is being developed in conjunction with a clinical psychologist from The Black Dog Institute, a research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it.

It will use 3D visualisations of ceremony and dance, audio recordings, video and text to provide some of the cultural nourishment from initiation in community.

A crowdfunding page set up on Gofundme has so far raised about $31,000 of a $280,000 goal.

Renowned actor and Indigenous leader Uncle Jack Charles has become the project’s patron.

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