New focus on suicide prevention in rural areas
THE announcement of four new suicide prevention sites in rural and remote Australia has been welcomed by President of the MARK Foundation for anti bullying, Kellie Millington.
“It’s something that we haven’t had a lot of support with over the years. Government bodies have sort of swept it under the carpet, but for them to recognise it is a huge step forward,” she said.
Mrs Millington, of Gayndah, said people of all ages and walks of life in rural and remote areas battled with mental illness and depression daily.
“It’s not just mental illness though, there are a lot of farmers who are depressed because of the state of their properties and losing stock and crops,” Mrs Millington said.
“They are sitting their and watching everything they worked so hard for die and their income dropping which has to be very hard.
“It’s kids and adults who need that mental health support.”
Mrs Millington helped start the MARK Foundation to fight against bullying after losing her son Mark.
National Rural Health Alliance CEO David Butt also welcomed the news and said a renewed focus on
— Alliance CEO David Butt
rural Australia where suicide rates can be much higher than urban centres is great to see.
“It gives the opportunity for local communities to work together on developing local solutions which work in preventing suicides and suicide attempts,” Mr Butt said. “We know that the rate of mental illness in rural and remote Australia is nearly identical to that in major cities, but the impact is much worse in country areas.
“The rate of suicide in remote and very remote Australia is almost double the rate in major cities.”
Mr Butt also spoke about the far reaching emotional impact of suicide or attempted suicide especially in close knit rural communities.
“For every member of the community it can be a personal loss,” Mr Butt said.
“In rural and remote communities mental health services are often limited with far poorer access to specialised services.
The National Rural Health Alliance is comprised of 39 national organisations focused on the health and well being of Australia’s 7 million rural residents.
Alliance targets cost effective, evidence based solutions to rural mental health.
The rate of suicide in remote and very remote Australia is almost double the rate in major cities.