Farming charities have reminded farmers they are not alone and to speak up about their mental health struggles on World Suicide Prevention Day (Thursday September 10).
The push came as figures showed more than one farmer a week dies by suicide, with many still reluctant to seek help if battling a mental health illness and facing significant financial pressures, poor harvests, market fluctuation and isolation.
Jude McCann, chief executive officer at the Farming Community Network, said: “Most farmers work long hours in often isolated environments, making it hard to find time to talk to others about what they are experiencing.
“There is still a stigma that talking about mental health can be seen as a weakness and some farmers find it difficult to admit when they may be struggling or when their farming business is facing challenges.
“Thankfully, attitudes are changing, and people are becoming more aware of their mental health and more willing to open up.
“On World Suicide Prevention Day, we want to remind people that suicide is preventable, and there are people out there who want to help, listen and provide support.
“FCN’s helpline (03000 111 999) is open every day of the year if you are worried about your own mental health, or concerned about a family member or friend.
“By coming together and promoting openness and positive discussions around mental health, we can help relieve some of the burden people may be carrying on their shoulders.”
Kate Miles, charity manager at the DPJ Foundation, said suffering from poor mental health is not something to be ashamed of and seeking treatment for it should be no different to receiving treatment for a broken leg.
"Too many people die by suicide each year, and especially too many people in the agricultural community," Ms Miles explained.
"It is so important to share farming challenges and to talk about the worries that you are carrying.
"Many farmers work alone, whether that is in a tractor cab or with their livestock, but this self-reliance can be unhealthy if this means bottling up your concerns.”
She added while it is easy to worry about interfering, asking someone how they are, listening properly to the response and probing further if you think there is a problem could be a ’life changer.’
"The DPJ delivers mental health awareness training that includes an element on suicide prevention," Ms Miles explained.
"Delegates are often surprised that we advise them to ask directly whether someone they are concerned about has considered suicide.
"However, this is one thing that could save their life.
"You would not be putting the idea in their head, but you could be giving them the opportunity to open up."
Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation manager, said: “Suicide affects our farmers, our friends and our families and is an issue that needs to be continually highlighted.
“The Farm Safety Foundation remains committed to working closely with rural support groups that provide services for those who need it.
“We will continue to highlight the issue, the contributing factors and consequences of poor mental health and suicide for our industry and educate our audience about the wealth of help, advice and support available.”