Flood suicides claim ‘a myth'

CLAIMS of skyrocketing flood-related suicide rates in the Ipswich, Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley regions have been dismissed as "myths" by State Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss.

Mr Rickuss called on the State Corner to investigate claims that more than 20 people may have taken their own lives in the wake of January's floods and subsequent insurance issues.

While, Coroner Michael Barnes' report confirmed the 13 deaths in Ipswich were the highest in a decade, it found no obvious connection between victims and the floods.

The report also found only three deaths in the Toowoomba region, which includes the Lockyer Valley, could be classified as suicide, representing the lowest rate in the past 11 years.

Mr Rickuss said people needed to be very sure of their information before raising such concerns in the public arena.

"I find it extremely poor taste when people who should know better make out they have factual information about issues such as suicide and speak to the media as some sort of social commentator," he said.

Mr Rickuss said further support was needed in Ipswich, regardless of whether or not the suicide deaths were flood-related.

"The increase in suicide numbers in Ipswich is a concern," he said. "I will be making representation to the appropriate government departments and agencies as to what can be done to alleviate the situation."

Ipswich's Business Enterprise Centre manager Tony Axford originally raised the issue in September after hearing multiple anecdotal stories.

Mr Axford said he was surprised at the results of the report.

"I am surprised, extremely surprised," Mr Axford said.

"I'm not a psychologist; all I know is what I hear from people on the ground.

"At the end of the day it's just different to what I'm hearing."

Mr Axford said regardless of the results he maintains there is an increased mental health issue in the region.

"We've had an 'R U OK Day' but we need to do that every day," he said.

The evidence supports analysis of mental health concerns following the Brisbane flood of 1974.

While affected people made more visits to doctors for symptoms such as irritability, nervous tension and depressed mood following the flood, no increase in the mortality rate was ever recorded.



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