Peter Holt

Research shatters resources industry suicide perception

RESEARCH has shattered the perception that the Queensland resources industry has been plagued by suicides.

Despite mining being a dangerous industry, research shows its workers are less likely to take their own lives than those in other industries.

Experts from Griffith University are publishing findings showing men in the state's mining industry had a below average risk of dying by suicide.

Lead researcher Dr Samara McPhedran said using data compiled in the Queensland Suicide Register which stretches back to 1990, she said "we're not finding evidence that workers in mining are at an especially high risk of suicide".

"It runs quite contrary to speculation that has been put forward in the media," she said.

According to her findings, of the 2806 employed men who took their own lives between 1990 and 2008, about 42 or 1.5% were miners.

Those in administration roles were not included.

She said the evidence did not explain why this was the case, but Dr McPhedran said mine workers may simply just enjoy the work.

"Work in the resources sector may attract people who enjoy that particular lifestyle, who enjoy working remotely and seek out that type of work," she said.

"All of this is not to say there won't be workers who are at risk and do need help.

"That will be the case of any workplace and in any sector."

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said he was glad to see "facts and evidence replacing speculation and bias" about mine workers.

"The mining culture has changed over the past decade reflecting changed attitudes in the broader community," he said.

"For example, mental health issues don't carry the stigma that they used to in our society.

"I would also suggest that the increasing numbers of women in the mining workforce are contributing to better workplaces and better health and safety outcomes."

The research is to be published in WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation.

For anyone needing help, contact Lifeline on 131144 or MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.


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