Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 8°C

Search

Farming opinion: With more than one UK farmer a week taking their own life, more must be done, says charity chief

PUBLISHED: 13:58 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 20 September 2018

Charles Smith, Farming Community Network (FCN) chief executive Picture: FCN

Charles Smith, Farming Community Network (FCN) chief executive Picture: FCN

FCN

For most people, suicide is far from an easy conversation to have, but with World Suicide Prevention Day taking place earlier this week (Monday, September 10), it is really important to talk about an 
issue that has plagued the farming community for many years and continues to do so today.

The suicide rate among farmers is a problem that must be tackled, says FCN charity chief Charles Smith Picture: RACHEL WELLSThe suicide rate among farmers is a problem that must be tackled, says FCN charity chief Charles Smith Picture: RACHEL WELLS

Farming consistently has one of the highest rates of suicide amongst all occupations. Despite a greater awareness of mental health within the industry, the sad truth is that more than one farmer a week takes their own life in the UK. In wider society, it is thought that any one suicide has a significant impact on eight other people. Within farming, because of the close-knit nature of our working and social lives, the impact is far wider reaching, devastating whole communities.

Thankfully the topic of 
mental health does not carry the stigma that it once did in the farming community. As more awareness is raised about the subject, the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality that has been entrenched in farming for generations is slowly diminishing and people are beginning to open up and talk about how they are really feeling. But the fact that the numbers of those taking their own life are not decreasing shows that much more needs to be done to tackle this issue.

Farmers have to overcome multiple issues on a daily basis, some of which are beyond control: fluctuating market prices, animal disease, the weather, lack of fodder, the potential impact of Brexit and rural crime to name but a few. Combine these stressors with the isolation and the pressure to make the farm business a success, it is hardly surprising that so many within the farming community struggle with poor mental health – and why some see no alternative than to end their own life.

When it comes to farming, it is very easy to underestimate just how important the mind is. Along with the body, it is, without doubt, the most important bit of kit a farmer can have. If the mind is not well maintained, the consequences can be disastrous – not just to the farmer, but to the farm business and the farm household too.

Suicide rates among farmers are still high, says FCN charity chief Charles Smith Picture: RACHEL WELLSSuicide rates among farmers are still high, says FCN charity chief Charles Smith Picture: RACHEL WELLS

There are several signals 
which, if seen on a prolonged basis, may indicate poor mental health that all within the farming community should look out for. These include:

Eating more or less than normal

Mood swings

Lack of concentration

AGM of Suffolk branch of National Farmers Union at Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket. Pictured is NFU Deputy President Minette Batters. Picture: GREGG BROWNAGM of Suffolk branch of National Farmers Union at Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket. Pictured is NFU Deputy President Minette Batters. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Poor physical health

Feeling tense

Feeling useless

Feeling worried or nervous

Poor sleep

Fatigue

Forgetfulness

Poor mental health can also lead to physical symptoms such as:

Back pain

Indigestion

Irritable bowel syndrome

Psoriasis

Migraine

Tension headaches

Identifying these signals, both in yourself and those around you, is an essential first step in getting the help you need.

If you have identified any of these signals and they are not normal behaviour, the next step is to talk to someone. You can talk to your friends and family, other farmers, your neighbour or your GP. Or if you are worried about talking to those closest to you, for fear of becoming a burden, you can talk to FCN. Our confidential national helpline is open every day of the year from 7am to 11pm and the majority of our volunteers are from a farming background and therefore have a great understanding of the issues farmers regularly face. FCN’s volunteers can help farmers find the support they need and “walk with them” on their journey to a more positive place in their lives.

I would encourage all within the farming community to take a step back, look at themselves and those closest to them and think about whether they might need help. Who knows – you may end up saving someone’s life.

If you are experiencing suicidal feelings or have been bereaved by suicide, call the FCN helpline on 03000 111999 or email help@fcn.org.uk.

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Unemployment in the East of England has dropped slightly, falling by 1,000 to stand at 100,000 in the last quarter.

An Ipswich-based law firm operating across the East of England has promoted 35 of its most talented lawyers.

Staff at Tendring District Council-run leisure centres are getting ready to go the extra mile in aid of Children in Need – some literally.

Suffolk-based digital voucher provider Pressi has launched a new scheme to provide companies with a flexible reward and incentive scheme, Pressi Corporate Choice.

Independent builder Stephen Lee from S R Lee Ltd, Brundish has been crowned the East Regional Winner in the Small Builder category in the third round of NHBC Pride in the Job Awards 2018 for his new build homes in Stradbroke, Eye.

Management Jobs

Show Job Lists

Most read

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24