Rural and regional suicide under the spotlight

No silver bullet: Lifeline Darling Downs CEO Derek Tuffield said that there is no single solution to stop rural suicide, instead asking for a variety of responses at the premier symposium in Toowoomba.

No silver bullet: Lifeline Darling Downs CEO Derek Tuffield said that there is no single solution to stop rural suicide, instead asking for a variety of responses at the premier symposium in Toowoomba.

It is no secret that suicide is stealing the lives of so many regional, rural and remote people of Australia.

The suicide rate in these areas is twice that of the national average, the challenge however, is how do we stop these escalating figures, and help these people in need.

Recently Lifeline, Australia’s leading suicide prevention service, held an all in Suicide Symposium in Toowoomba, a full one day seminar and workshop with a range of speakers, professionals, industry representatives, and importantly survivors, all aiming for the one goal.

CEO of Lifeline Darling Downs South West, which hosted the event, Derek Tuffield said the symposium was about Lifeline Centres sharing knowledge, discussing solutions and learning from some of the country’s leading experts.

“We had over 100 delegates discussing the best ways to address suicide in our communities,” Mr Tuffield said.

“There is not going to be one silver bullet to fix the problem, each community has different issues so we need a variety of responses.”

Mr Tuffield said while some aspects such as awareness, and getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide is improving, the symposium also looked at some other changing statistics, hoping to get in front of future trends or issues before it is too late.

“Mental health is a clear factor but it is not always the case,” he said.

“Hearing leads to good healing so local police, doctors and services play a role, but so too can the local bowling club or pub – people used to not talk about it but it is getting better and people are talking about it more.” 

One of the more alarming figures to come out has been the gradual rise in female suicide, and while males still far outnumber females it is something that the service has an eye on.

“We are losing eight people a day to suicide, six male and two female, but there is a creeping increase in females, particularly between the age of 15 to 24, while males are slowly decreasing,” Mr Tuffield said.

“The female role has changed in society over the last 20 years and there is evolving pressures, while domestic violence also plays a part.

“It is a statistic that we are starting to identify – it will all go towards our future planning as we contemplate different strategies.”

  • For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services, Lifeline 13 11 14.