There have been consistent reports of heightened levels of suicide and even accidental death in farming and regional communities across Australia. While reports reveal that the number of traumatic deaths in these communities is greater than that of the general Australian population, research is limited and the investigation into the impact of these preventable deaths is quite low.
The latest statistics on suicide in farming communities in Queensland suggest that occupational farmers are twice as more at risk for suicide than the average Australian. This however doesn’t include people who may be farmers but have off-farm work, or people who may be technically retired but still contribute to farming work.
The stigma of suicide in farming communities has created a real barrier for people to be able to talk about their experiences. According Sam Haren, the director of Australian startup Sandpit, people who are dealing with a traumatic experience of suicide find it difficult to vocalise how they are feeling and what they are going through.
To break down and address the suicide stigma in regional and farming communities Sandpit has created a web application called The Ripple Effect. The startup is a personalised web application that presents real stories and experiences of people who have experienced suicide in their community. Each story is presented to the user in a way that is relevant to them and their relationship to the subject.