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Media Release – September 10th 2017

Tackling Suicide Head On

A major farmers lobby group and a Gippsland base mental health advocacy have joined forces to tackle suicide risk in rural areas.


With a program, especially designed to allow people to be more aware of the first signs of depression and anxiety and other forms of mental illness, Aussie Farmers Foundation and Barrier Breakers Inc. will be launching the first of four Mental Health First Aid course in Sale in October.


Derek Amos, Chairman of Barrier Breakers, said that Gippsland had one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation and that precursors to suicide – such as depression and anxiety – need to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.


He said, “Suicide is a major health concern, with suicide deaths averaging 2,687 over a five year period, and remains the leading cause of death for all Australians between the ages of 15 and 44”.


“2012 data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month clearly shows that suicide rates in Central Gippsland exceed both the state and national average, with suicide rates for young Australians being the highest in 10 years.”


He said, “Given that major depression alone accounts for 50% of all suicide deaths, we need to recognise symptoms earlier and encourage sufferers to seek help before major depression sets in”.


Mr. Amos said, “With limited job opportunities, Gippsland had been hit hard of late with the closure and threatened closure of major industries, the Murray Goulbourn fiasco and a roller-coaster ride with milk prices and the continuing down-turn of the timber industry”.


In an endeavour to address possible depression caused by these issues, Aussie Farmers Foundation has provided Barrier Breakers with a grant to run a series of mental health first aid courses. The aim is to create a better understanding of mental illness by the first responders and/or other professionals called out to emergencies involving mental breakdowns, more sensitivity in such dealings and a greater understanding of mental illness by families, friends and carers.


Mr. Amos said, “The program is not only designed to address the key area of mental health for farming communities, but also their economic wellbeing”. He said this can be adversely affected by mental health issues, particularly when those issues are not addressed or are treated with a lack of understanding and sensitivity.


Sale-based Clinical Psychologist, Sarah Schluter, will conduct the courses, which will commence on Wednesday, 4 October in the Bond Street Events Centre, Sale. Bookings for the courses can be made at the Sale office of Barrier Breakers, 55 Raymond Street – Phone 51446002 or Barrier Breakers Traralgon office on 51744588.


Mr. Amos also took the opportunity to invite people to volunteer for Barrier Breakers at their Sale and Traralgon offices.


“Barrier Breakers is a community-based organisation – an incorporated association and tax endorsed charity. Our advocacy services are provided free of any charge and our funding comes from the community we serve”, Mr. Amos said.


“We provide free training for our volunteers and work with them in a friendly environment, which is richly rewarding, particularly when you see the smiles on the faces of those people who have been helped by our program”, Mr. Amos concluded.


For further information, please contact Derek Amos on 0428397706.

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