Farmers, Suicide Literacy and Suicide Stigma – The Ripple Effect

Background: Globally many farming populations have been identified as having higher rates of suicide, in comparison to those living in metropolitan, rural and regional communities. The reasons for this are unclear although occupational risk and stigma are considered risk factors. This Australian study sought to understand the role of suicide literacy and suicide stigma in farming and rural populations and the relationship between these.

Methods: A mixed-methods online intervention was developed. This presentation reports on baseline quantitative data of suicide literacy, stigma and suicide effect collected from male and female rural Australian participants (N = 536) with an experience of suicide (attempted, considered, bereaved by, cared for, or any other experience).

Results: Our cohort demonstrated higher levels of stigma and significantly higher levels of suicide literacy when compared with previous Australian community samples. Males were also more likely to have considered suicide than females. Females were more likely than males to report a devastating and ongoing effect of suicide bereavement/s.

Conclusion: This study reiterates the clear need for much improved understanding of the risk factors for suicide and the experience of suicide that occurs within the life and work in farming communities. Importantly it identifies that increased literacy (intended to decrease risk) does not necessarily correspond with decreased rates or experience of suicide. How can we apply and adapt ‘best practice’ in farmer suicide prevention to reduce stigma and improve prevention efforts.

Brumby, S., Kennedy, A. and Versace, V.2020Farmers, Suicide Literacy and Suicide Stigma – The Ripple EffectIndian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine24(Sup4): S3Go to page