Rural and remote

Of Australia’s 20 million people, 66% live in capital cities, towns or other major metropolitan centres - the remaining 6 million people are spread out across 8 million square kilometres, living in what are referred to as rural or remote areas (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2004). 

Rates of suicide and suicide attempts are higher in rural and remote populations of Australia, with very remote regions having suicide rates more than double that of major capital cities (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010).

A number of factors contribute to the high suicide rates in rural and remote areas including:

  • Economic and financial hardship – Changes in the economy and extreme climate events in regional Australia have a direct and substantial affect on many people in rural and remote communities;
  • Easier access to means that lead to immediate death – Firearms and other aggressive means of suicide may be more available in rural and remote areas. There are also likely to be more secluded or isolated locations where people can find themselves feeling alone and possibly unsafe;
  • Social isolation – Many people in rural and remote Australia are socially isolated, with less face-to-face contact with family, friends and other support networks;
  • Less help-seeking – Many rural people are resilient and resourceful, and have a strong sense of self-sufficiency in regional and rural areas. This can discourage them from seeking help in difficult times from family, friends or their community;
  • Reduced access to support services - Often rural and remote communities do not have access to a range of community support services, such as mental health services; and 
  • Combinations of suicide risk factors – For many people in rural and remote Australia, risk factors may combine to increase the risk of suicidal behaviour (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007).

For more information and resources, try the following:

  • Conduct a library search using the keywords 'rural and remote'
  • View profiles of National Suicide Prevention Strategy rural and remote programs
  • Read LIFE News issue 9: rural and remote
  • Go to the links page

Key organisations

The following are organisations specialising in Australian rural and remote mental health.

National Rural Health Alliance
National Rural Health Alliance is a peak body working to improve the health of Australians in rural and remote areas:

Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health
The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health aims to improve the mental health of rural and remote communities through academic leadership, collaboration and achievements in research, education, service development and information services.

HealthInsite provides resources and links to information about mental health services for people living in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Bush Crisis Line and Support Services
Bush Crisis Line and Support Services aims to contribute psychological support for health practitioners and their families adjusting to life in remote areas. 

MulgaNet provides a network for information and resource sharing for mental health professionals, GPs nurses, allied health professionals, community workers, researchers, and those working closely with clinicians in rural communities.