10 May 2013

Increase in rural suicides expected

12:44 pm on 10 May 2013

Depression and suicide are now the major health problems in the rural sector.

In 2010, 16 people per 100,000 in rural areas committed suicide - 25% more than in urban centres.

Rural organisations have been meeting to discuss better ways to raise awareness of anxiety and mental health problems in the sector.

Federated Farmers says although the figures for the years 2011 and 2012 are not available, it's likely the rate of suicide in rural areas has increased, due to the hard financial times.

Spokesperson Jeannette Maxwell said the effects of a drought can be felt for two to three years afterwards by farmers.

Mental health will be a key topic at a rural safety conference in Wellington next week and the Dairy Women's Network is to develop a rural health policy.

Project manager Lynda Clark said one idea already tried successfully in Waikato that will continue is MH 101 (mental health learning days), featuring people dealing with depression and suicide in rural commuinities.

The rural health coalition will also look at how Australia is dealing with rural mental health issues.