Griffith Master of Suicidology student Dameyon Bonson is on a mission to reduce suicide rates in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQSB community.
Dameyon is a gay Aboriginal (Mangarayi) and Torres Strait Islander (Mabuiag) male who started a social enterprise called Black Rainbow while working in remote Indigenous communities in suicide prevention.
Black Rainbow is pushing for a national health standard or policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQSB people and Dameyon plans to use his Master of Suicidology at the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) to help inform such standards.
“I was working across the Kimberley region in suicide prevention and became frustrated with what I saw, as the programs available did not appear to be having an impact on reducing rates of suicide,” Dameyon said.
“I thought if I wanted to participate in the prevention of suicide, I need to understand suicide.”
“With my final year dissertation, I will look at the suicidality in men of the Northern Territory and their understanding of it.
“Due to the lack of data regarding suicidality in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LBGTIQSB community, my studies and research will inform Black Rainbow’s public health approach and universal-like interventions.
“This approach will be specific to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LBGTIQSB community.”
This year marks 20 years of suicide research and prevention at Griffith University.
In its first iterations, Black Rainbow involved two social media accounts and was created to bring positive visibility to community members who may have been feeling isolated.
“For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQSB community, our lives are at the intersection of two significant health determinants, particularly for suicide risk: racism and homophobia,” Dameyon said.
“We are yet to see an investment from the suicide prevention leadership in this country commensurate with this need.
“Whether they were in a remote community, the suburbs inner-city in their bedrooms, we wanted them to know they were not alone, and social media was a great way to achieve this, connecting with people all over the country.”
Black Rainbow is run by volunteers and provides support to a niche group of people that belong to not just one, but two at-risk groups – those who are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and identify as LGBTIQSB.
While keeping a large focus on suicide prevention, the organisation has also branched out more broadly to help foster the health and wellbeing of the people they support, from research into how COVID-19 impacted the community, to a Futures Fund, which provides financial support for a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LBGTIQSB individuals excelling in their field and need a helping hand.
“As Black Rainbow has evolved, our directions and activities are shaped by the community and our own personal lived experiences,” Dameyon said.
“The work we are currently doing is what we view as essential work to support positive wellbeing of the people we work with.”
Dameyon was also recently listed in Vogue as one of the 20 people who changed the world in 2020.
LGBTIQSB stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Sistergirl and Brotherboy, with Sistergirl and Brotherboy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander terms for transgender.