15 May 2013

Rural forum to shed light on quad bike deaths and rural suicides

9:30 am on 15 May 2013

A rural health and safety forum in Wellington on Wednesday will shed more light on quad bike accidents and the high rural suicide rate.

An average of 18 people a year die in accidents on farms and a disproportionally high number of those involve quad bikes.

The conference will hear from a coroner involved in an official inquiry into fatalities involving quad bikes.

The chief coroner's office will also discuss rural suicide figures, which are well above urban rates.

Ministry of Health figures show in 2010 there were 16 rural suicides per 100,000 population, compared with about 11 in urban areas.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell fears more recent figures could be worse because the suicide rate is linked to farming conditions.

She says a spike in numbers is expected because of this year's drought - which will continue to affect farmers for years to come.

In addition, she says, it has been very tough year for beef and sheep farmers because the global financial crisis is continuing to have a negative impact on international markets.