2013-11-19 International suicide research grant awarded to NCFH PhD student

Alison Kennedy, a University of New England PhD student based at the National Centre for Farmer Health, has been awarded the inaugural ‘Seeking Hope’ dissertation grant to support her research exploring the impact of death by external causes (suicide, accidental death, homicide and other deaths of unknown cause/intent) on members of farming families.

The American Association of Suicidology following an international peer review process awarded the ‘Seeking Hope’ grant. Mrs. Kennedy was the sole recipient of the grant outside of the USA and was honoured to receive the award. Mrs. Kennedy said “receiving this award is a great recognition of the importance of research concerned with the wellbeing of Australian farming families impacted by tragedy”.

“Farming families work and live in a unique environment. Those closely affected by externally caused deaths are able to offer exceptional insight into the occurrence and impact of such loss within this context, allowing us to challenge assumptions, develop more appropriate prevention strategies, and understand the phenomena more broadly” she said.

To date, the response to externally caused deaths in rural farming communities have primarily focused on prevention. While this is vital, such a focus fails to consider the experiences of those most intimately affected by a tragic death. Mrs. Kennedy has been overwhelmed at the generosity of participants so far. “People I have spoken to have been incredibly generous in sharing their unique stories and, I feel incredibly privileged that people are willing to share information which will ultimately go towards assisting others experiencing tragedy in the future”.

The research being conducted by Mrs. Kennedy, is currently inviting male and female adult members of farming families, who would be willing to share their experiences of the death of someone close to them through either suicide, accidental death, homicide or a death through unknown cause or intent. Currently, participants are being sought from western, northern and central Victoria, southern NSW and eastern SA.

Participation in the research involves the completion of a survey questionnaire and a confidential, one-on-one in-depth conversation. “The research has been designed with busy farming life in mind”, Mrs. Kennedy said.

Jim Fletcher Chief Executive Officer, Western District Health Service, said “the success of Alison Kennedy in receiving this award further demonstrates the importance of the work being undertaken by the NCFH and the recognition of this work internationally”.

Media Contact:
Alison Kennedy, Award Winner – (03) 5551 8587

Authorised by:
Jim Fletcher
Chief Executive Officer
Western District Health Service