Pathways to suicide in Australian farmers: A life chart analysis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017, 14 (4)
Issue Date:
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© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Farmers have been found to be at increased risk of suicide in Australia. The Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behaviour suggests that the proximal factors leading to the suicidal desire or ideation include an individual’s experiences of both perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. Suicidal desire with acquired capability to engage in lethal self-injury is predictive of suicidal behaviour. This study investigates the pathways to suicide of 18 Australian male farmers in order to understand the suicidal process and antecedents to suicide in Australian male farmers. The psychological autopsy (PA) method was used to generate life charts. Two pathways with distinct suicidal processes were identified: acute situational (romantic relationship problems and financial concerns/pending retirement) and protracted (long-term psychiatric disorder). Long working hours, interpersonal conflicts, physical illnesses and pain, alcohol abuse, access to firearms, and exposure to drought were additional common factors identified. An understanding of the interrelatedness of diverse distal and proximal risk factors on suicidal pathways in the wider environmental context for male farmers is required when developing and implementing rural suicide prevention activities.
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