New partnership targets suicide in rural Australia
A new partnership between Lifeline and Ruralco will empower rural retailers across the country to help stop suicides among Australian farming communities.
Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel said that, with men in regional and remote areas 1.3 to 2.6 times more likely to die by suicide than those in urban areas, Lifeline’s training of businesses within the Ruralco Group, including their retail and agency networks, will connect those struggling on the land with lifesaving care.
“Whether it’s drought, financial pressure or feelings of isolation, the best people to understand the issues faced by farmers in rural and regional areas are those at the heart of each community,” Mr Shmigel said.
“Lifeline’s skilled trainers will teach staff to better recognise and respond to signs of suicide in their customers and, in turn, these ‘over-the-counter’ conversations will offer hope to those doing it tough. Furthermore, the training will ensure more families, friends and community members don’t have to experience the profound impact of losing someone to suicide.
“It’s part of the whole-of-community approach we are taking to the national suicide emergency currently faced in Australia. There are currently about 2500 deaths by suicide each year – more than double the road toll – and while Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis services will receive more than one million calls to our 13 11 14 crisis line this year, we only have the resources to answer 85 per cent of these.
“Every call counts, so the funds provided by Ruralco as part of this partnership are vital in helping us reach more Australians going through anguish and pain.”
The partnership was launched at the CRT National Conference and received a strong show of support from the event’s 1000 delegates, which included suppliers and CRT members, who rallied to donate funds.
Ruralco CEO Travis Dillon said this support demonstrates his organisation, which has over 500 points of presence in regional Australia, is proud to share Lifeline’s vision of an Australia free of suicide and take practical steps towards making it a reality.
“The seasons can turn against people in the agriculture sector, and this can cause pressure to mount up on our customers,” Mr Dillon said.
“We know the role that our employees can play in their local communities – sometimes they’re the first port of call for people in trouble. So, the training provided by Lifeline through this partnership will help them know what to say and how to say it.
“While people in rural and regional Australia are renowned for being down-to-earth, practical and resilient, it’s important for them to know that help is available and for them to access that help, particularly during tough times.”
For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.