Opinion: Tragedy of self harm on the Mid North Coast

THE MID North Coast is surely one of the best places in the world to live, and locals rightly take pride in that.

The community also takes considerable stock in the areas in which we excel – in tourism, agriculture and enhancement of an already beautiful natural environment.

But there are shadows – particularly when it comes to social issues.

Like much of regional Australia, the coast compares poorly to the metropolitan centres on benchmarks such as cancer, mortality and income. These are in part shaped by lifestyle, and a result of an older demographic as retirees covet the Mid North Coast for their twilight.

Access to health care – especially specialists – is not as great in regional areas as it is in the big cities. This is simply the upshot of population – where ‘numbers’ determine the viability of expert services.

What is not so readily explainable is that the Mid North Coast has elevated rates of suicide.

The factors behind this are many, complex and often inter-linked.

Feelings of a lack of worth, driven by everything from racism and economic disadvantage, geographical remoteness, drug dependency, and unemployment are all likely players.

So there is no quick fix to reducing the rate of self harm on the coast – a raft of measures need to be deployed in a broad-brush response.

The problem cannot be put in the too hard basket – as the impact of a single suicide often reverberates across a community. And there is also the potential for the ‘ripple effect’ – copycat clusters which have occurred, just recently, in the Northern Rivers.

If you or someone you know needs help: Beyond Blue: Call 1300 224-636 24 hours/7 days a week.