Study shows Qld farmer suicides outnumber NSW

IN the farming fraternity, younger men are disappearing.

As the country prays for more rain, dark clouds of depression blacken the lives of farmers with junior farmers now found to be particularly vulnerable to suicide.

Research by Griffith University's Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention in collaboration with the University of Newcastle examines what affects suicide rates for farmers in Queensland and New South Wales.

The first fruits of the project were presented by Griffith's Urska Arnautovska[COR] and colleagues at a health conference in Geelong earlier this month.

The figures suggest Queensland farmers are taking their own lives at twice the rate of their New South Wales counterparts.

Although NSW has almost 20% more farmers under 34, the number of suicides in Queensland among the same age group was almost three times higher.

From 2000 to 2009, a total of 239 farmers in both states took their own lives, with 147 of those occurring in Queensland and 92 in NSW.

The study is the first to compare Queensland farmer suicide rates with NSW.

The gloomy numbers struggle to capture the scale of tragedy affecting these country areas.

Queensland Country Women's[COR] Association President Jennie Hill knows the trauma that results from suicide. Her son Greg, 35, who took his own life on May 17.

At the time, he was on the family farm in Miles about two hours north-west of Toowoomba.

She and husband Joe knew Greg was grappling with demons but the love of his parents, brother, sister and even the light from two young daughters could not dispel the shadows.

He needed help and he received some. At the time, his doctor and family could not have known how much help.

"I got him to go to the doctor because I knew he wasn't well - I didn't know how bad it was," Ms Hill said.

"If you realised, you would take further steps, which is still not easy to do.

"You feel anger at the person, you think, 'Why? You have left so much behind.

"You are angry about that, you're angry about everything they could have done with the life they had in front of them."

Ms Hill said people need to become better versed in not only recognising depression but also in how to seek proper treatment.

The work of Ms Arnautovska and colleagues will offer suggestions to address the danger of suicide for farmers.

If you or somebody you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.



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