Sydney (dpa) - A lack of women in rural Australia is compounding the problem of depression and suicide among young Australian men, former Victoria state premier Jeff Kennett told ABC-TV on Thursday.
Australia has one of the highest male suicide rates in the world.
Kennett, the chairman of the Beyond Blue national depression initiative, said he became aware of the problem when, as premier, he heard of the large number of suicides among young men in rural Victoria.
He said social changes in the country have resulted in more women moving to cities, leaving some men without companionship and more vulnerable to depression.
"There are fewer women available in the country for young men to marry," he said. "Now, how do you address that social challenge in our community?"
He said that "on one hand we are saying that every citizen has equal opportunity, but it's causing a problem because we are finding it increasingly difficult for our young men to find potential partners for life when the young men want to remain in the country and the young women want to pursue a career elsewhere."
Copyright 2002 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH