Possible fall in suicide rates despite floods

State Coroner Michael Barnes is examining the flood-related deaths of 22 people and the disappearance of three in southeast Queensland between 10 and 17 January.

He will determine when and how they died, and examine whether there has been a rise in people taking their own lives as a result of the floods.

On Wednesday, Diego De Leo, the director of the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, told the inquest that three people in the Toowoomba region committed suicide in the first six months of this year, compared with 17 in 2009 and 30 in 2006.

Counsel assisting the coroner Peter Johns said there had been speculation that suicide rates had risen since the floods.

But Dr De Leo explained that data from around the world showed natural disasters in general had a “pulling-together effect”.

He said people were distracted by their shared loss and ongoing recovery efforts, leading to a