One farmer commits suicide every 10 days, according to an Australian-first study of farmer suicide rates based on 10 years of national coronial data.
National Rural Health Alliance Policy team member Luke Sartor presented the findings of the farmer suicide desktop study at the Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium in November 2021.
The study found that between 2009 and 2018, there were 370 farmer suicides reported. Farmers with certain demographic characteristics had higher suicide rates, including males, those who have separated from their spouse, and middle-aged farmers.
Each year, the average suicide rate in farmers was almost 59 per cent higher than non-farmers, and this rate increased to 94 per cent higher than non-farmers when looking at the most recent year of data in 2018.
Recent research into Australian farmer suicides using coronial data had only been undertaken at a state level, comparing Queensland with New South Wales. National-level reporting has been done previously, but only 20 to 30 years ago. This study updates the available research on this issue and shines a spotlight on the higher suicide risk posed to the farming population.