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Keywords:

  • agricultural establishment;
  • farm resident;
  • farm suicide;
  • suicide rate;
  • rural suicide

Abstract

Objective: Despite much having been written, both nationally and internationally, about rural suicides, no one in Australia knows either the number of residents on farms or the suicide rate for this group of people. This paper seeks to determine the number of residents on farms in South Australia, along with the suicide rate.

Design, setting and participants: A retrospective audit review of the files of suicides completed between the 1 January 1997 and 31 December 2001 was undertaken in the South Australian Coroner's Office. There were 1033 cases examined for sociodemographic details and 380 files were explored in detail.

Results: Estimating both the number of agricultural establishments in South Australia and the resident population on farms for 2001, and determining the number of suicides on farms between 1997 and 2001, the farm suicide rate was found to be 33.8 for men, 6.7 for women and 21.6 per 100 000 for persons, much higher than the rural suicide rate for South Australia in 2001 (23.8 for men, 5.6 for women and 14.5 per 100 000 for persons) according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Conclusions: This study provides an estimate of the number of farm residents in South Australia in 2001, the number and rate of suicides on farms in South Australia in 2001, and shows that this rate is significantly higher than the overall rate of suicide in South Australia in 2001.