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Original Research

Differences in characteristics between suicide cases of farm managers compared to those of farm labourers in Queensland, Australia

Submitted: 22 August 2014
Revised: 2 April 2015
Accepted: 7 May 2015
Published: 22 September 2015

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Author(s) : Arnautovska U, McPhedran S, De Leo D.

Citation: Arnautovska U, McPhedran S, De Leo D.  Differences in characteristics between suicide cases of farm managers compared to those of farm labourers in Queensland, Australia. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3250. Available: (Accessed 22 October 2017)


Introduction:  Farmers constitute an occupation group at a heightened suicide risk compared to the general population. To date, research has tried to explain this peculiarity by identifying suicide risk factors that are common to the whole of the farming population. There are, however, indications that risk factors may be different for different sub-populations of farmers, such as younger/older farmers or farm managers/farm labourers. This study compared the characteristics of suicides by farm managers and farm labourers, while controlling for the effect of age.
Methods:  A review of two datasets, the Queensland Suicide Register and the National Coroners Information System, was conducted in which a total of 78 cases of farm managers and 69 cases of farm labourers were identified as a suicide during 2000–2009, Queensland, Australia. The main outcome measures included various demographic characteristics, circumstances related to death, health and mental health variables, and history of stressful life events.
Results:  The two groups differed in marital status, living arrangements, ethnicity, physical and mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, contact with a health professional prior to death, and specific life events such as relationship breakdown and recent/pending unemployment. The majority of these differences were not statistically significant once age was accounted for. However, differences in psychiatric variables and experience of a recent/pending unemployment remained significant.
Conclusions:  This study contributes towards better understanding of suicide among farmers in different job positions, and highlights the need for tailored suicide prevention initiatives that consider a combination of age- and job-specific suicide risk and protective factors among farmers.

Key words: age effect, Australia, farmers, job position, suicide risk factors.

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