Strengthening Our Spirits

Strengthening Our Spirits

The Strengthening Our Spirits model was designed by members of the Greater Darwin region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as part of Darwin’s National Suicide Prevention Trial, which covered a four-year period from 2016-17 up to 2019-20. It is a systems-based approach to suicide prevention, meaning it takes into account the many people, systems and processes which need to work together to help prevent suicide.

Strengthening Our Spirits represents an Aboriginal way of knowing; it is based on the elements of fire, land, air and water.

The four elements create the perfect system

Together, the four elements – fire, land, air and water – create the perfect system. This system has provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with everything we have needed to survive and thrive for more than 60,000 years. Self-harm and suicide do not fit with our traditional story. Self-harm and suicide are not a part of our culture. Our culture is founded on a balance between fire (our spirit), land (our mother), air (our healing) and water (our identity). Self-harm and suicide occur where there is an imbalance in the elements that results in a person’s spirit dying out or becoming detached.

Traditionally, we have ways to ensure that this does not happen – we use healing and ceremony to ensure that we all remain safe and connected. We have ways to ensure that our fire (our spirit) continues to burn bright. However, some of our people, especially our young people, have become isolated – their fire is cooling in the embers or is rushing away, trying to find another place where there is sufficient fuel to keep burning. Today, the system that has supported us for so long is not in balance and we need our community and service providers to help us bring it back into alignment. The model draws on the concepts and symbols that are meaningful for us and links these to key elements that we believe are important when taking a systems-based approach to the prevention of self-harm and suicide.

Strengthening Our Spirits resources

To learn more about Strengthening Our Spirits, please contact us.

Artwork by Tony Duwun Lee

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