There is an urgent, ongoing need to meet the mental health challenges faced by Australians in rural areas, where the rate of suicide is about 50 per cent higher than in major cities.
Men in regional areas are on average 1.4 times more likely to end their life than their urban counterparts. From 2009 to 2013, residents of major cities had a suicide rate of 9.7 per 100,000 people, while the rates in regional areas steadily increased to around 12.8, with very remote areas having a rate of 21.5.
“A range of circumstances specific to remote areas place rural Australians at greater risk of self-harm, including greater vulnerability to weather events and economic change, isolation and loneliness, social stigma and stoicism, and reduced access to support services,” says Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue.
These statistics have prompted an ongoing partnership between leading animal health company, Zoetis, and national, not-for-profit organisation, beyondblue. In 2016, Zoetis donated $100,000 to beyondblue after collecting $5 from each sale of its cattle and sheep vaccines and drenches. Zoetis has committed to the same donation drive this year from 1 August to 31 October 2017.
“Zoetis is proud to once again be supporting beyondblue and the important work they do,” says Lance Williams, General Manager at Zoetis. “Together we’ve made strong progress in providing tangible contributions to raise awareness of mental health challenges, and help fund much needed services that directly assist rural families. We are passionate about the importance of mental wellbeing and look forward to helping again this year.”
Ms Harman says money raised by Zoetis supports beyondblue in reaching out to those in need: “The money raised by Zoetis goes directly to our phone and online services, which are an excellent way for people in the bush to get assistance. All the services beyondblue offers are free as a result of generous donations and sponsorships such as this one.
“Three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression, and around eight people a day take their life. This amounts to around 3,000 people each year – more than double the yearly national road toll.
“Timely diagnosis, support and treatment and ongoing management of a mental health condition in rural and remote areas is likely to occur later or not at all, resulting in an increased likelihood of self-harm and suicide.”
beyondblue services include the BeyondNow app, which helps those experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings, distress or crisis work through a structured safety plan. While everyone’s plan will be unique to them, the process and structure are the same – it prompts you to work through the steps until you feel safe. So far, the app has already been downloaded almost 17,000 times.
beyondblue’s online forums bring together people affected by mental health conditions, including carers and friends, so they can talk to others in similar circumstances at any time. This can be done anonymously and safely in the online forums which are moderated by a combination of professionals and community champions.
The best place to start is to begin a conversation about mental health – asking how a mate or relative is travelling – can often be the first step in a journey to recovery.
People can support the Zoetis initiative by purchasing products between 1 August to 31 October 2017 from its range of cattle, sheep, pig, poultry or goat vaccines and drenches available at rural resellers. To make a donation to support beyondblue, visit zoetis.com.au/communitysupport
For more information about anxiety, depression and suicide prevention, visit www.beyondblue.org.au or call the 24/7 beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636.
Image credit left to right: Fred Schwenke, Business Unit Director at Zoetis; Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue; Lance Williams, General Manager at Zoetis