The West

FIFO suicides to be investigated
WA Mental Health Commissioner Tim Marney. Picture: Louise White.

The deaths of nine West Australian fly-in fly-out workers who took their own lives will be investigated by a senior mental health clinician.

Mental Health Commissioner Tim Marney told a public hearing on Wednesday that the apparent increase in FIFO suicides over the past 12 months was tragically not surprising.

Suicide is the single biggest killer of people aged 15 to 44 years old, while the average age of a FIFO worker is 38, Mr Marney said.

The FIFO workforce is also 80 per cent men, who account for four out of five suicides.

Mr Marney said the FIFO lifestyle also exposed workers to damaging factors including social isolation, the inability to resolve financial and family troubles, shift work, substance abuse and high risk taking behaviour.

“You visit any mine site, the emphasis on physical health is extreme,” Mr Marney said.

“If they put that sort of effort into awareness and support for mental health we'd be far better off.”

Mr Marney said there was no need for an inquiry into the causes of FIFO suicides and the services provided to workers because that was already known.

But a case study into the deaths of nine workers, and perhaps more, was needed to better understand how they could have been helped before they took their lives.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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