At any given time, rates of suicide tend to increase with increasing rurality. Concerningly, recent ABS data revealed that there has been a 9.1 per cent increase in the number of Australians who died by suicide. While Queensland reported the largest increase in suicide deaths; across the country, men are approximately three times more likely to take their own life than women, and male farmers are dying by suicide at rates significantly higher than non-farming rural males – the further you move from the coast the higher that figure climbs.
There are many external factors that can lead to poor mental health in rural men, including droughts, floods, unsustainable rising input costs, falling commodity prices, family issues and pressure from banks, all of which can be compounded by the expectation of living up to the family farm legacy. And as Mary O’Brien wrote earlier this year, “without you or those close to you noticing, it gradually pulls you into a hole, a bog hole”.
Just like getting bogged, with depression there will be times when you need to ask for help to pull you out. So I joined Mary and Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner MP to launch the ‘Are you bogged mate?’ bridging program in Toowoomba last week. The program aims to boost awareness and start a conversation with the broader community about the rising issue of depression and suicide rates among men in rural areas. We are confronting the challenges that country men face daily, talking about mental health, and lighting the path to support.
With support from government, mental health support organisations, key industry associations and community groups we can help overturn these trends affecting our men in rural and regional communities. We have all been bogged at some point. Depression and anxiety are common conditions, not weaknesses, and with the right treatment most people recover. So ask the question, ‘Are you bogged, mate?’
Are you bogged, mate? www.areyouboggedmate.com.au
Readers seeking support can contact:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636