Statistics have revealed the high rate of male suicides in our region.
Statistics have revealed the high rate of male suicides in our region. THINKSTOCK

Our region's tragic suicide statistics may shock you

OF THE 98 suicides in the Toowoomba region between 2011 and 2013, 86 of them were men.

It's a harrowing statistic that Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Queensland CEO Derek Tuffield would rather wasn't true.

Those numbers equate to a male suicide rate of 87.8% for the two year period, according to the most recent, 2016 report from the Griffith University's Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention. 

And unfortunately, most of them are young men, Mr Tuffield said.

The Darling Downs and South West region's suicide rate among men sits much higher than the state's, which is 75%. 

"That's the highest proportion of male suicides observed in all the hospital and health services regions for Queensland," he said. 

"It goes on to say that the highest rates were observed in men aged 25-34 years, at 43.1 per hundred thousand of the population.

"When you consider that Toowoomba has roughly 107,000 people in our region here, you're basically saying that almost 44 males committed suicide in Toowoomba each year between 2011 and 2013." 

That's a huge number, Mr Tuffield said. 

"I guess what it says, is when you look at that age group, from 25-34, that's where we need to put more support for those young men."

Mr Tuffield said the high suicide rate among men could be attributed to the region's rural heritage and roots. 

"Because we are rural-based, access to firearms in rural communities is to some degree a bit easier than other areas of Australia," he said.

A number of other factors, ranging from relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, and a loss of self worth due to financial stress could be contributing to high rates of suicide.  

"And for our young people, needing a sense of connectedness to their communities and families is really important," he said. 

But the first step to making positive change is to understand a situation, and getting up to date information on suicide rates in the region has always been a huge challenge, Mr Tuffield said.

"It's information that (Lifeline) definitely need to help planning strategies."

Lifeline recently held a fundraising gala dinner with the Order of St John, which raised $100,000 for the organisation.

Mr Tuffield said Lifeline was currently planning their suicide strategy response, as well as providing intensive two-day ASSIST workshops for community members to help them identify suicide warning signs, and running safeTALK workshops in schools to educate younger children about the impacts of suicide and how to help people who are threatening self harm. 

"It's about educating the community more about what are the warning signs, what to look for, and where is help available to support you or support a person who may be thinking of taking their own life," he said. 

This Sunday, Lifeline, in conjunction with the Toowoomba Suicide Prevention Network are inviting the community to attend a walk at Picnic Point from 10am. 

The Out of the Shadows walk is an annual national Lifeline event designed to raise awareness, remember those lost to suicide and for family and friends to unite in a commitment to prevent further deaths by suicide. 

Mr Tuffield said it was important for people to know that help is available, either by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14 or by booking a counselling service on 1300 991 443. 

Alternatively, have a talk to your GP, Mr Tuffield said.

"Don't be afraid to ask for help." 

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