Deakin University
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The ripple effect: A digital intervention to reduce suicide stigma among farming men

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-05-29, 00:00 authored by Alison KennedyAlison Kennedy, Susan BrumbySusan Brumby, Vincent VersaceVincent Versace, T Brumby-Rendell
© 2020 The Author(s). Background: Compared with the general population, Australian farmers-particularly men-have been identified as at greater risk of suicide. A complex range of factors are thought to contribute to this risk, including the experience of Stigma. stigma also impacts those who have attempted suicide, their carers, and those bereaved by suicide-manifesting as shame, guilt, social isolation, concealment of death, reduced help seeking and ongoing risk of suicide. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of an intervention, tailored for the farming context, designed to reduce stigma among farming men with a lived experience of suicide. Methods: The digital intervention used an adult learning model providing opportunity to share insights, reflect, learn and apply new knowledge among people with shared farming interests, suicide experience and cultural context. A range of content-tailored to the gender, farming type and suicide experience of participants-included video stories, postcard messages, education and personal goal setting. Pre-and post-assessment of suicide stigma and literacy was complemented by qualitative data collection during the intervention and participant feedback surveys. Results: The intervention was successful in reaching members of the target group from across Australia's rural communities-with diverse geographic locations and farming industries represented. One hundred and sixty-nine participants from the target group (farming males aged 30-64 years) were recruited. While the Stigma of Suicide Scale failed to identify a reduction in self-or perceived-stigma, qualitative data and participant feedback identified behavioural indicators of stigma reduction. Four subthemes-'growth', 'new realisations', 'hope' and 'encouragement'-highlighted attitudinal and behaviour change indicative of reduced stigma associated with mental health and suicide. Participants' baseline suicide literacy (Literacy of Suicide Scale) was high when compared with previous community samples and total literacy scores did not demonstrate significant improvement over time, although literacy about the link between suicide and alcoholism did significantly improve. Conclusions: These results highlight opportunities in groups with high suicide literacy for targeted stigma reduction and suicide prevention efforts for both the target group and other populations within Australia and internationally. Results also highlight the need to reassess how stigma change is understood and evaluated across a wider range of population groups. Trial registration: This research project was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) (ACTRN12616000289415) on 7th March, 2016.



BMC Public Health





Article number



1 - 12




London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal