A 17-year-old Aboriginal boy was found dead at Broome’s football oval on a night he had been spoken to by police who say they did not know he told other police four days earlier he wanted to take his own life.
The boy is one of a cluster of suicides involving 13 young indigenous people in the Kimberley being investigated at an inquest before WA Coroner Ros Fogliani in Broome this week after two weeks of earlier hearings in Perth.
He was charged in April 2015 by police officers for carrying a knife.
Senior Constable Daniel Fisher said his colleague Constable Matthew Hughes checked the boy’s personal details but they did not know about this previous mental health problems.
The check should also have revealed that police took him to Broome Hospital four days earlier after he was found with alcohol and amphetamines in his system and trying to jump in front of cars, claiming that he wanted to kill himself.
Counsel assisting the coroner Philip Urquhart described his life as full of “struggles, pain, sorrow and neglect” from the moment he was born about half the weight of a healthy baby, likely with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
This week’s hearings have also heard harrowing accounts of the suicides of two sisters, aged just 10 and 13, with the latter telling at least two people including a community elder about her plans to end her life in the days before but nothing was done.
Ms Fogliani and a team of lawyers are travelling to various Kimberley Aboriginal communities to speak to locals and see their living conditions, including Pandanus Park near Derby and One Mile in Broome.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS