Dying for love? Relationship troubles in the resources sector

Dr Samara McPhedran

In an Australian first, research from Griffith has found that relationship problemsmay see male miners at greater risk of suicide, relative to men in otheroccupations.

The study led by the university’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research andPrevention (AISRAP), compares psychiatric histories and life events among menin mining and other occupations, prior to death.

The study is being presented today (Tuesday 12 November) by AISRAP seniorresearch fellow Dr Samara McPhedran.

“Miners were significantly more likely than men in other occupations to have experienced relationship problems prior to their death by suicide,” she says.

“The observation that relationship troubles may precede suicide is not in itselfnovel, but the apparent difference in exposure to this factor, between miners andother workers who died by suicide, is a new finding.

An important predictor of suicide

“Relationship problems may be an important predictor of suicide among miners.Knowing this may help us to identify and assist miners who are at risk of suicide,as well as point the way to possible industry-specific intervention strategies.

“Interestingly, mental health problems before death were comparable between thetwo different groups of men,” she adds. “There was no evidence that miners weremore likely to be suffering from depression, for example.

“The findings suggest that in terms of addressing possible risk factors for suicideamong mining workers, family relationships may be a key issue for many men.

“From a policy perspective, this suggests a role for programs that strengthen andsupport family functioning, including support for partners of mining workers.”

The study also says that it may be beneficial for the resources sector to consideraspects of workforce design that may impact, both directly and indirectly, onfamily relationships.

The 11th Australasian Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion conference will beheld at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, Western Australia, from Monday 11November to Wednesday 13 November 2013.