Ru­ral sui­cide rate a real con­cern

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

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-sup­

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.

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