Support for people living with anxiety and depression is critical, but often in rural Australian communities, services are hard to access.
Sometimes, if left untreated, depression and anxiety can lead to thoughts of suicide. If there are no support systems in place for people facing hard times, the risk of dying by suicide may increase. In Australia, around eight people a day are lost to suicide, and too many are from farming communities. When a person chooses to take his or her life, it doesn’t only affect their family, it affects an entire community.
To help counter the tragic loss of life through suicide, animal health company Zoetis has become a Supporting Partner of mental health organisation, Beyond Blue, and launched an awareness and fundraising campaign to for much-needed funds.
Beyond Blue provides information and support to help Australians achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
For every Zoetis cattle or sheep vaccine or drench sold at rural resellers between 1 August and 30 October 2016, Zoetis will donate $5 to Beyond Blue, up to a total of $100,000.
Lance Williams, general manager of Zoetis Australia and New Zealand, said the company is passionate about supporting hard-working regional Australians.
“Our staff travel more than two million kilometres each year servicing all types of farms and households in some of the most remote areas of Australia. They recognise the highs and lows faced by resellers and producers in regional and remote Australia.
“With rural communities facing tough seasonal conditions, ever-changing commodity prices and the tyranny of distance, mental health is a growing concern in rural Australia.
“There is not one person in our organisation who hasn’t had some exposure to mental illness and this drives our need to ensure this campaign with Beyond Blue is a success. We hope the agricultural industry will get behind this initiative and support good mental health in rural Australia,” Mr Williams said.
Data from 2001 to 2011 shows residents of major cities had the lowest rate of suicide deaths per 100,000 people, while residents of very remote areas had the highest rate year on year. In 2010-11, residents of major cities had a suicide rate of 9.4 per 100,000 people and residents of very remote areas had a rate of 18.1
One of the significant reasons for this is that people in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia face more barriers to accessing healthcare than people living in major cities, making it harder for rural people to get the help they need in order to maintain good mental health.
“Within every community, we experience ups and downs, but when you get another issue that arises on top of daily challenges, whether it is prolonged drought, flood or fire, the impact on many rural families is severe. The stress and anxiety can be overwhelming,” Beyond Blue chairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC said. “If you take, for instance, the challenges being faced in the dairy industry, there is great apprehension and anxiety amongst our farmers. We need to make sure they get the help they need well before they reach a crisis point.”
Beyond Blue CEO, Georgie Harman, said stigma about mental illness and suicide can cause embarrassment, blame and shame, damaged relationships, social isolation and can stop people seeking help when they need it.
“Sometimes just reaching out and having a conservation can prompt a person to seek help,” Ms Harman said.
“Many of us are uncomfortable talking about suicide. Often when someone is having a tough time, or feeling down, we don’t know what to say or when to say it. Sometimes, we choose to say nothing because we think it’s none of our business or we will make the situation worse. Asking if someone is thinking about suicide will not make the person do it,” Ms Harman said.
For advice about what to say if you are worried about yourself, or if you are concerned about another person, find out how to start a conversation at www.beyondblue.org.au/conversations