Report to Help Tackle Suicide in Rural and Remote Areas
A new report launched by the Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, has found that rural and regional communities face unique challenges in preventing and recovering from suicide.
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PDF printable version of Report to Help Tackle Suicide in Rural and Remote Areas (PDF 245 KB)
20 November 2012
A new report launched by the Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, in Adelaide today has found that rural and regional communities face unique challenges in preventing and recovering from suicide.
Mr Butler said the report - Suicide in rural and remote areas of Australia - confirms the need to address suicide in rural and remote Australia in a way that recognises the specific experience of those communities.
“Suicide is devastating for families and communities, and we know that rural, regional and remote communities face rates of suicide around 20-30% higher than in metropolitan areas,” Mr Butler said.
“It’s important that we have up to date and comprehensive research to help inform the policy initiatives being rolled out on the ground in these communities.”
“This report is a timely reminder of the ongoing and critical need for mental health reform to improve the lives of Australians experiencing and affected by mental illness.”
"The Gillard Government has a concrete reform plan focused on better access to services, better detection, better targeting and better coordination."
The report assessed a range of data to make practical findings including that:
- Higher rates of agricultural industry employment were associated with higher male suicide rates in rural areas.
- Divorce and unemployment were associated with higher male suicide rates in rural areas.
- Rural areas with higher levels of education had lower suicide rates.
- Work and financial problems strongly predicted suicide in rural areas.
- Protective factors included access to health services such as GPs, and supportive family relationships.
“The Government is investing more than $292 million in suicide prevention projects through the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package and the National Suicide Prevention Program.”
“As part of that investment we’re providing $14.17 million for community based suicide prevention projects that primarily target rural and remote areas, such as the Farm-Link project and the Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention project.”
“We’re also providing funding for the national expansion of the Wesley LifeForce project and the StandBy service, which will help rural and regional communities prevent suicide, as well as helping those bereaved by suicide.”
"Our suicide prevention efforts nationally also include the $40.5 million ATAPS suicide prevention program, delivered through Medicare Locals including those covering rural and remote parts of Australia, which will assist more than 40,000 Australians at risk of suicide with practical services and support."
The Government’s $2.2 billion package of broader mental health reforms are also building the community wellbeing, resilience and good mental health that help reduce suicide rates, through a range of online, telephone and in person services.
“Having access to good mental health services is an effective way to address and help reduce suicide in our community, because we know that the greatest single risk factor for suicide is mental illness,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler launched the report at the annual Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium in Adelaide. The report can be viewed on the Living is for Everyone website.
For more information, contact the minister’s office on 02 6277 7280
Project DetailsUnder the National Suicide Prevention Program, funding is being provided to approximately 20 projects that target populations in rural and remote areas. Examples include:
- Farm-Link project ($668,000 over 2011-2 to 2012-13) - Coordinated through the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at the University of Newcastle, the project aims to increase the support for Australian farmers, workers and their families in rural and remote Australia by increasing the training and support available to local practitioners offering mental health services;
- Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention project ($750,700 over 2011-2 to 2012-13) - Through satellite and local radio, this project provides help-seeking and wellbeing messages to a wide and diverse network nationally including to Indigenous, rural and remote and CALD communities.
- The Wesley LifeForce ($4.8M) program builds community capacity to engage in suicide prevention activity, improves access to appropriate services and supports those at risk of suicide and bereaved by suicide. Funding under the TATS package will allow the establishment and support of a further 21 Wesley Life Networks and delivery of 144 additional education seminars and workshops, in addition to the development of more targeted training packages and online support for the Networks.
- The StandBy Suicide Bereavement Response Service ($6.9M) provides a 24 hour face-to-face response service for those bereaved by suicide, training for front line emergency response services in the community, and coordination of suicide response services. Funding provided under the TATS package will be used to establish and maintain new service sites in currently underserviced regions nationally.
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