Farmers and farm workers have been recognised as a group at high risk of suicide in Australia; however this risk is not without geographic and demographic variation. This study aims to identify and better understand the complex interplay of risk and protective factors surrounding farmer suicide, with an emphasis on social influences, so as to inform tailored and effective suicide prevention initiatives.
Focus groups were conducted in three diverse sites across two states in Australia with men and women separately to gain perceptions about suicide risk and protective factors and attitudes towards suicide and help seeking. The three communities in each state represented areas with a suicide rate similar to, above, and below the state average. The communities were also diverse in their population, types of farming, geographic location, distance from and access to services. There were a total of 33 female and 30 male participants.
Qualitative analysis indicated three major interrelated social factors: (1) changing rural communities, (2) community attitudes and stigma and (3) relationship issues.
The biopsycho-ecological model is considered useful to better understand and address social, as well as individual and environmental factors, pertaining to farmer suicide.