A regional approach to understanding farmer suicide rates in Queensland

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014 Apr;49(4):593-9. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0777-9. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Abstract

Purpose: Elevated suicide rates among farmers have been observed across a number of countries, including Australia. However, studies on farmer suicide have typically treated farmers as a homogenous group, and have predominately been focussed at a national level. This overlooks potential variability in suicide rates (and, by extension, contributory factors) within different groups of farmers (for example, different age groups), as well as across different geographical locations.

Methods: Using a unique data source, the Queensland Suicide Register, the current study examined variation in farmer suicide rates by age, sex, and location within Queensland.

Results: Although farmer suicide rates varied substantially across different regions of Queensland, no significant associations were found between rates of farmer and non-farmer suicide, or between the proportion of farmers in a region and farmer suicide rates.

Conclusions: This suggests that farmer suicide may be characterised by unique combinations of occupational and location-related effects that are likely to vary substantially within and between different regions, and provides caution against treating farmer suicide as a homogenous phenomenon. The highest rates of farmer suicide were observed among younger farmers (aged 18-34 years), highlighting a need for targeted suicide prevention initiatives for this group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*