Regional suicide worse than cities

June 16, 2017

NEW research revealing suicide and self-harm rates are higher in remote and rural Australia than in major cities is no surprise to Paul Roadley.

The report — Mental Health in Remote and Rural Communities — reveals residents of very remote areas are also twice as likely to die by suicide as city residents, despite no difference in prevalence of mental illness in Australians based on where they live.

‘‘I was living in a very remote area of Western Australia and it definitely made things more difficult, in terms of isolation and access to services,’’ Mr Roadley said.

‘‘I’ve also found that most emergency services volunteers in rural areas don’t access peer support.

‘‘In farming communities, there’s also a real ‘she’ll be right’ and ‘just have a beer’ attitude among men.’’

Echuca-Moama GP Suzanne Harrison said older men living in rural areas were at high risk of suicide.

‘‘Access to mental health services and stigma regarding mental illness are issues,’’ she said.

In Campaspe Shire between 2010-14, 14 residents died by suicide, according to Australia’s Health Tracker.

Of those, eight were from the Echuca district.

Released by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the report identified a range of factors contributing to different outcomes for those in the bush, including poor access to care, limited services, reluctance to seek help, concerns about stigma, distance and cost, and cultural barriers.

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