Calling for help to tackle suicide rates in farmers

FARMING HEALTH: Dr Fennell wants help from farmers to create the perfect website.
FARMING HEALTH: Dr Fennell wants help from farmers to create the perfect website. Contributed

FARMERS have some of the highest rates of depression and suicide across the globe.

According to a 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey, almost 50 per cent of Australian farmers lived with a mild or worse mental disorder, compared with 26 per cent of the general population.

To tackle the figures, researchers have created an online resource providing farmers with tools to cope with mental stressors.

The new program has been developed by researchers at the University of South Australia in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, National Centre for Farmer Health and the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health.

Lead researcher Kate Fennell said it was the first online resource of its kind, specifically targeting farmers to give them effective coping techniques and prevention methods.

Dr Fennell said it would not only help farmers who lived with a mental illness, but it could also be used as a prevention tool to address potential issues.

"It is going to focus on helping farmers deal with things that are beyond their control," she said.

"Things like the weather, commodity prices and disease outbreak - all things that aren't easily fixed, can't be controlled," she said.

"And research has shown us they are what causes the most stress."

Dr Fennell, who grew up on a farm in South Australia, said she was looking for 80 farmers from across the country to assist in developing and evaluating the website.

She said she hoped to launch the site within 12 months.

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Topics:  depression farming kingaroy mental illness south burnett suicide

South Burnett

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