Rural suicide: People are less likely to kill themselves in city areas

The number of suicides per 100,000 people in rural and remote Australia was 50 percent higher than in capital cities in 2016.

This has prompted the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) to develop a Position Paper on “Rural Suicide and its Prevention”.

The paper proposes five key focus areas for action to address the need to save rural lives now and to lower the number of deaths and rates of suicide in the future.

CRRMH director Professor David Perkins said that recommendations outlined in the Positon Paper draw on the suggestions and ideas obtained from participants who attended the CRRMH’s Rural Suicide Prevention Forum held at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, as well as various sources, experience and research.

“Rural suicide causes enormous distress to individuals, families, schools, workplaces, and communities and must be addressed seriously,” he said. 

“We believe that the higher rates of suicide in rural and remote Australia and the current upward trend in rural suicide rates are not acceptable.”

The paper outlines two focus areas for immediate action that include strategies to: prevent people who experience suicidality from taking their own lives and to help those who are affected by the suicide of others.

The other three focus areas include suggestions designed to: prevent deaths in the future including providing support to vulnerable groups in rural and remote populations, building protective factors in children and young people and; building healthy and resilient people and communities.

The paper also provides concrete suggestions for addressing the high rates of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities specifically looking at indigenous leadership and participation in suicide prevention strategies.

Strategies outlined advocate that leadership for rural suicide prevention is needed at the national, state and local government levels.

“Decreasing the suicide rates is not just the responsibility of the health sector; it goes beyond health,” Professor Perkins said.

“It can’t be one size fits all approach.

“Everyone needs to be part of the solution to the under-recognised and unacceptable problem of rural suicide.”

  • If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s mental health, call the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636