The reasons behind the high rates of suicide among Australian farmers are set to beinvestigated at Griffith University.

In conjunction with the University of Newcastle and other partners, the study Influenceson farmer suicide in Queensland and New South Wales, funded by the Australian
Research Council and industry partners, aims to provide greater detail about risk andprotective factors surrounding suicide by farmers.

“Incidence of suicide in Queensland farmers is significantly higher compared to otheroccupational groups and to the national average, and many factors contribute to this
increased risk,” says Dr Kairi Kolves from Griffith’s Australian Institute for SuicideResearch and Prevention.

“The purpose of this study is to analyse individual andenvironmental factors related to suicide in farming communities.”

Dr Kolves says that based on a preliminary study of Queensland Suicide Register(QSR) data, it appears that around 40 per cent of Queensland farmers who died by suicidebetween 1990 and 2008 had some form of contact with a mental health professional threemonths before death.

“It appears that a substantial proportion of farmers are seeking help for mental healthproblems prior to death by suicide, which challenges the common assumption that farmersare unlikely to seek help,” she says. “In addition we need to ask whether current mentalhealth services are delivering support and interventions that take into account specificneeds and characteristics of farmers and their communities.

A wider perspective

“We have to look into farmers’ lives from a wider perspective, go beyond mental illness,and examine the environment and other stressors, which would help us to design
interventions targeting needs of farmers and their communities.”

The research will analyse environmental and occupational factors affecting areas wherefarmers live, as well as individual factors such as mental illness and distressing life eventsas precipitating factors for suicide.

In order to explore risk and protective factors there is a need to have a comparison(control) group; current study compares farmer suicides to sudden deaths and living
farmers. The researchers are encouraging the next-of-kin of either a farmer who has diedby suicide, a farmer who died by sudden death, or a living farmer to participate in thestudy.

The study is looking for participants to take part in a phone interview conducted by aclinical interviewer where they will talk about your close one.
Participants need to be aged 18 years or over; be the next-of-kin of either a farmer whohas died by suicide, a farmer who died by sudden death, or a living farmer. Participantsalso need to be willing to give two hours of their time to talk.

For more information please contact Lisa Kunde on 07 3735 1144 [email protected]