High rural suicide risk

June 20, 2017

SUICIDE and self-harm rates are higher in remote and rural Australia than in major cities despite no difference in prevalence of mental illness in Australians based on where they live, according to new research.

The report — Mental Health in Remote and Rural Communities — reveals residents of very remote areas are also twice as likely to die by suicide as city residents.

Fourteen Campaspe Shire residents died by suicide between 2010-14.

Of those, six were from the Rochester/Kyabram/Rushworth district, according to Australia’s Health Tracker.

Echuca-Moama GP Suzanne Harrison said older men living in rural areas were at high risk of suicide.

‘‘As usual, access to mental health services and stigma regarding mental illness are probably issues,’’ she said.

Released by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the report identified a range of factors contributing to different outcomes for those in the bush, including poor access to care, limited services, reluctance to seek help, concerns about stigma, distance and cost, and cultural barriers.

The research studied a snapshot of 2,567 country Australians flown by air from different parts of country Australia for emergency mental health care by the RFDS from 2013-16.

The research revealed schizophrenic psychosis, depressive disorders and drug psychosis were the three main reasons for transfers of people with mental disorders; while 61 per cent of people transferred with mental disorders were male.

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