Regional life can be dangerously lonely
Summary: People living in regional and remote communities are more likely to suffer from loneliness which, according to experts, can cut short their lives.....
Relationships Australia released a report on loneliness last week aiming to draw attention to the significant proportion of Australians suffering from a lack of social support.
According to the report, younger males living in regional areas are more likely to experience a lack of social support (12 per cent) than those in the city (11 per cent) and therefore have a higher rate of social isolation than older males in major cities.
Relationships Australia national executive officer Alison Brook said there were more lonely people in regional Australia across all age groups.
She said there were no clear answers as to why this was a trend, but acknowledged fly-in, fly-out work and drought were contributing factors.
“There are lots of reasons as to why people in the bush are feeling lonely more than others,” she said.
“Those who are living in remote areas naturally do not see a lot of people like you do living in an urban space.”
Ms Brook said there were public health issues with loneliness.
“Chronic loneliness is the equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day,” she said. “It can actually cut your life short.”
Ms Brook said there were three main things to help combat loneliness.
“Working on family relationships is an important way of staving off loneliness,” she said.
“For our own sake and those living around us, it is important that we live in a neighbourhood that is well connected.
“If you are lonely and you join one interest group and connect with people over a common interest, you are far less likely to stay lonely and it improves your health.”
Men’s Shed WA president Trevor Taylor said the activities at the organisation were not just an old man’s game and could help beat loneliness.
“All men should be encouraged to go to a Men’s Shed if they possibly can,” he said.
Mr Taylor said he had seen men’s health improve after joining one of the local organisations.
“One of the biggest problems we have is there are a lot of farmers who are feeling lonely, but they do not go and join their local shed when they really should,” he said.
“They have a lot to offer these sheds as well.”
Get support now
If the situation is urgent and you’re concerned you, or someone else, is in immediate danger do not leave the person alone, unless you are concerned for your own safety.
Call the person’s doctor, a mental health crisis service or dial 000 and say that the person’s life is at risk.
If the person agrees, you could go together to the local hospital emergency department for assessment.
Other services include:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
beyondblue Support Service 1300 22 4636
Mates in Construction on 1300 642 111
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800