Community groups to tackle rural suicide

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We need to understand rural Australia better.

The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) has called for a better understanding of rural cultures and how they might affect suicidal behaviours. The findings, in a recently released book by the Griffith University-based institute make clear the importance of understanding rural Australia better in order to find more effective prevention strategies.

“There is also a great need to better understand the relationship between access to appropriate and high-quality physical and mental healthcare in rural areas,” said lead researcher Dr Kairi Kolves.

“There is no doubt that great effort is being made to help rural communities; however, there is a need for better evaluation of these strategies in order to ensure their efficacy and validity, as well as to ensure there are no regions or groups overlooked.”

Dr Kolves team identified five key areas of concern with potential strategies to address them;

  • Better support for people in exceptional circumstances
  • Better vocational education and training
  • Addressing the culture help-seeking for mental health issues
  • Encouraging the development of culturally appropriate and flexible sources of support

“This may include ‘upskilling’ key members of the community to provide treatment and/or referral services,” said Dr Kolves.

Suicide is a significant problem in rural Australia, mostly associated with men, but exacerbated by weather cycles and events more significantly affecting people’s mental health.

With mental health services more likely to be thin on the ground in rural areas, AISRAP believe established social services and clubs, such as sporting clubs, CWA etc should be trained to look for the early signs mental health difficulties before they get out of hand.