The SCARF community education program trains everyone to play a role in preventing suicide.

Story By Amanda Burdon

Every year, about 2500 Australians die from suicide, or approximately 11 in every 100,000 people. It’s conservatively estimated that a further 65,000 Australians are known to attempt suicide each year. Suicide rates in rural and remote areas are generally higher, and in some cases far higher than the national average. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in males in Australia.
According to most experts, approximately 90% of people who die from suicide are suffering from a mental illness at the time of their death. Mental illness is the third largest disease burden in Australia. In any one year, about 3.2 million Australians aged 16–85 suffer from some form of common mental illness. Only about 35% access treatment, and this figure is lower in rural areas.
Researchers are trying to understand why people in rural and remote areas are at greater risk of suicide. Possible factors may be higher levels of geographic and social isolation, lower socio-economic circumstances, access to means (especially firearms) and the challenges of their physical environment. Rural men may be less likely to seek help because of the traditional culture of being stoic in the face of adversity and blaming themselves for economic and climatic conditions. Rural people also experience higher levels of alcohol misuse, and alcohol can increase the risk of mental health problems in some people, especially those with anxiety and depression. For more information see If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, ring Lifeline, 24 hours a day, on 13 11 14.

This Story is from Issue #96

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2014