Suicide rates in Australia's rural farming areas are higher than those of the general population (particularly for males), increasing the likelihood of a personal experience of suicide for members of this community—whether through attempting suicide or having thoughts of taking their own life, being bereaved by suicide, caring for someone who has attempted suicide, or some other experience of suicide.
The cultural and contextual elements of rural work and life contribute to the stigma experienced in rural communities—presenting challenges to providing accessible, appropriate and acceptable support to those with a lived experience of suicide.
The Ripple Effect is an innovative digital intervention—launched in June 2016—designed to reduce the stigma associated with a lived experience of suicide. The Ripple Effect is a personalised, peer-based—yet anonymous—online platform that provides opportunity for participants to share insights and information about how they have been affected by rural suicide. The site also provides resources for individuals to improve their own and other’s wellbeing through shared personal stories and experiences, accurate information and links to local, state-based and nationally available support.
A Steering Group of researchers, health professionals, industry representatives, digital designers and farmers with a lived experience of suicide guide the research. Recruitment to the Ripple Effect is being community driven and supported. The intervention is being evaluated using an adapted version of the Stigma of Suicide Scale (SOSS), the Literacy of Suicide Scale (LOSS) and qualitative interview data.
To date, The Ripple Effect has attracted almost 9000 unique visitors. All rural adults affected in some way by suicide are urged to register and participate in this research, with an ultimate goal of improving rural suicide prevention and better supporting all those affected.