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Australia’s regional communities have a powerful new technological ally in the battle to reduce alarming suicide rates among farmers.

“The Ripple Effect” website, created by digital-experience specialists Sandpit and launched on June 30 as part of beyondblue’s STRIDE Project (with donations from the Movember Foundation), uses a remarkable adaptive learning engine to present personally relevant content to users.

Significantly, that content is based on the lived experiences of others within regional farming communities who’ve been touched by suicide, creating an accessible resource that’s not only highly responsive, but immediately relatable.

According to Sandpit Creative Director Sam Haren, delivering this combination of qualities represents a big step towards removing the stigma surrounding suicide among farmers.

“Farmers are typically very proud, self-reliant people,” says Sam. “So they’ve historically tended to be reluctant to seek professional help if they’re struggling; and the flow-on, or ‘ripple’, effect of that has been extremely traumatic for countless families and their communities.

“But equaly, people in farming communities are renowned for wanting to help and support each other. So it was critical to develop a platform that allowed them to do that without anyone having to publicly put their hand up and visibly ask for assistance.

The Ripple Effect not only makes it easy for them to share and discuss their stories with each other, anonymously if they wish, but also intelligently ‘learns’ about each interacting site visitor and guides them to those stories that most closely relate to their own.”

Not surprisingly, the adaptive learning engine’s customisable personalisation capabilities are attracting increasing attention from the corporate sector, with Sandpit also recently collaborating on large projects with Google Creative Labs and Penguin Books.

However, Sam says the innovative team remains most excited by wellbeing-based projects. “There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing our expertise helping people. Ventures like The Ripple Effect are absolutely where we want to be.”

The Ripple Effect is a joint initiative of the National Centre for Farmer Health, Deakin University, the Victorian Farmers Federation, AgChatOZ, the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland, and Western District Health Service.

For more information, visit: www.therippleeffect.com.au