Farming family tackling suicide head on | Video, Gallery

Billy Browning. Narromine.  Photo: CONTRIBUTED.
Billy Browning. Narromine. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sunday, September 10, and a farming family from Narromine have shared their story on how they are beating depression and suicide in the community.

People living in rural and remote areas are more likely to die by suicide than those in major cities, according to the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

A video titled ‘Beat The Breakdown: Bill’s Story’ tells the Browning family’s story. They lost their husband and father, Glenn, to suicide in 2012.

Son Billy Browning spoke candidly in the film, produced by Matt Deavin

“We had no idea that Dad was suffering from depression at the time. We were financially stable, beaten the drought. Had just bought a new farm and no record of depression,” he said.

Billy said that the family have often looked back and wondered if there were any signs of depression.

“We don’t think there is. If we knew about the depression and it was planned he wouldn't of done it there, not while we were home…,” he said.

Billy said since his father’s passing many people within the community have come up and spoken about their own mental health issues.

“I definitely miss Dad, I miss him a lot. What he did though it actually saved so many people,” he said.

“We’ve had so many people around the community come up and say look ‘Gleno saved me’ and unfortunately it just took Dad to save a lot of people because it brought the issue to reality for Narromine and in the farming community. Because it was never ever talked about...”

Mental health clinics have since been run in the town and each year the Narromine Rugby Club holds a memorial game, raising thousands of dollars to support mental health in the community.

“We’re tackling this issue head on. Because we’re proud of Dad but we want to change other people’s lives. We don’t want to see other people suffer or go through what we’ve had to go through,” Billy said.

Director of the Centre Professor David Perkins said WSPD is about taking the time to have those conversations when you notice something has changed and equipping yourself to help yourself and others.

“We know people living in rural and remote areas face a range of challenges unique to living outside a major city. These include drought, floods and fire as well as isolation. We need to recognise these and work towards implementing proven strategies to rural needs,” Professor Perkins said.

The Centre is also addressing the issue of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering suicide prevention workshops, ‘We-Yarn’ in Aboriginal communities.

This evidence-based training as well as training delivered in workplaces and communities has the potential to expand more broadly.

Professor Perkins said the Centre’s research activities are pivotal in understanding the key factors leading to suicide.

“Our research team including international PhD students are engaged in long-term projects including a major review of the National Coroner Information System,” he said.

"This in turn helps inform policy and guides future strategies in rural suicide prevention,” he said.