Farming hero breaks down about mental health in bush
BRENDAN Farrell is regarded as a hero of the Outback for many.
By taking donated hay to drought-affected Aussie farmers he has seen some distressing and cruel insights into the lives of those living in the midst of the crippling dry spells which often wreak havoc for so many.
But, last week the hardened truck driver broke down as he found out one of those he had been helping on a rural NSW cattle farm had taken his own life.
In an emotional video message, which has been shared more than 13,000 times on Facebook, the fourth-generation farmer from Burrumbuttock described how the death of his mate had been a “kick in the guts”.
The pair met when Mr Farrell was delivering dog food in 2015 to drought-affected farmers in the outback of NSW.
“I saw this old bloke at the side of the road,” he said.
“I pulled up and said: ‘Mate, do you want some dog food? And, he said: ‘Yeah, righto.’
“I put five bags of dog food in the back of his Jeep and we got talking there and he had the oldest pair of wire strainers in the world. They must have seen more kilometres of wire than I can imagine.”
Mr Farrell headed home and thought he’d pick up a pair of new wire strainers and drop them off with the old farmer the next time he went through.
He delivered the fresh equipment with a letter telling the farmer to “keep his chin up”. The unnamed, single farmer was “gobsmacked” and the two stayed in touch ever since. “Bonds are formed in special ways and that’s what hurt,” Mr Farrell said as his eyes filled with tears in the video.
“It’s just a real kick in the guts today, that’s all.
“To all those farmers who are thinking of doing something silly, think of a bond or a special moment.”
Earlier this month, Mr Farrell received the Order of Australia medal for his services to primary industry, but he said the death had put his award into perspective.
“Every award in Australia cannot bring a life back … I would hand back my award to have this bloke back,” Mr Farrell said in a video message.
“He couldn’t get his cattle to market because they were too poor,” he later told Nine News. “He couldn’t sell his property because it was worth nothing. Couldn’t feed his cattle because he didn’t have enough money to buy the feed or the freight. So he is gone.”
He is now campaigning for the Government to provide more mental health workers on the ground in rural areas.
A study published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information last year stated male farmers have been found to be at increased risk of suicide in Australia.
Long working hours, interpersonal conflicts, physical illnesses and pain, alcohol abuse, access to firearms, and exposure to drought were found to be major factors when researchers looked into the deaths of 18 Australian male farmers.
❝formed Bonds are
in special ways and that’s what hurts... It’s just a real kick in the guts today, that’s all.
— Brendan Farrell
If you or someone you c know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
SPEAKING OUT: Founder and organiser of the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners, Brendan Farrell posted a video talking about his mate’s death. He wants to see better support for those battling drought.