The everyday stresses of living in regional and remote communities can overwhelm even the most resilient person. Those who live and work on the land depend on the vagaries of the seasons, and when not concerned about environmental factors, farmers are then beholden to an external market.
Coupled with a lack of access to mental health services and facilities, it can come as no surprise that those living in regional Australia are more likely to commit suicide than in comparison to our city cousins.
During one particularly bad period, during the 1980's and 1990's, every four days a farmer committed suicide. Since then the statistics have improved, but this is still an issue that many regional Australians are battling.
Earlier this year, the Center for Regional and Remote Mental Health reported:
"In every state in Australia, the rate of suicide among those who live outside the greater capital cities is higher than that for residents that live within them, and the rate has risen much higher in rural areas over the period 2011-2015."
And it's more important than ever that regional Australian's turn to a friend, family member or colleague and ask the simple question -- R U Ok?
Don't know where to start? R U Ok? Offer the following tips on how to start the conversation:
Ask a question. It doesn't necessarily have to be R U OK? Why not start with "How are you going?" or "You seem less chatty than usual - is everything okay?"
Listen intently and seriously to what they have to say. The more engaged you are the better placed you will be to help them in their situation. Ask them to explain their situation and ask them how they feel about it - don't judge their situation and acknowledge that things seem tough for them at the moment.
3. Encourage Action
Be positive about how professionals could get involved in the situation. Connect with them by sharing a personal experience where you've sought help for someone else and how that helped you. For example, "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... You might find it useful too."
4. Check In
Always make sure you follow up as genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
For more information on R U OK? Day and how you can get involved click here.