Rural suicide rate a real concern
Andrew McGiven, chairman of Te Aroha District Federated Farmers presents a serious issue in the New Zealand agricultural industry:
It was with much concern and more than a little alarm I read in a recent rural newspaper that one farmer every two weeks takes his/her own life. While farming has its fair share of life stresses, surely the situation is not so bleak and uncontrollable that this course of action needs to be considered.
As both my father and grandfather committed suicide, I am well aware of the guilt, anger, confusion and sorrow that a family member’s self inflicted death can impose on loved ones, and I believe it is the immediate family who are the true victims left to deal with the carnage of shattered lives, relationships and businesses.
If the above statistic is correct, it would appear that Sir John Kirwan’s depression campaign is perhaps not reaching its intended targets in the rural community.
The reason for this is partly due to the fact that farmers are all self-reliant, innovative and practical people, but who also can work long hours in relative isolation.
This can result in a culture of being unable or unwilling to reach out when the dark veil of depression and later paranoia descend.
Mental health in the past has often been stigmatised, but surely we are far enough out of the dark ages to recognise that with early recognition of the condition, and the right support networks, a positive outcome can be achieved.
One of these support networks is the Rural Support Trust who can help people out for those brave enough to put their hands up and admit that they need assistance.
They have a 0800 helpline – 0800 787 54, or an email address of rural-support.org.nz.
Other providers include Lifeline, or if the situation becomes acute, then get them into the the emergency room where there is an emergency psych team.
There are no better people out there to fix this situation than ourselves, by keeping in contact with our neighbours and friends, and be willing to step up to the plate if they ask for or need help. It’s a community issue, and the community needs to take ownership of the issue.
I would just like to put in print that I fully intend to be the first male on our side of the family to make it to the age of 58. I’ll let you know how I get on in another 16 years.