22 Jan 2013

Rural families 'need help' to avert suicides

6:44 pm on 22 January 2013

Federated Farmers is calling for more health service resources to deal with depression in farming communities, as statistics reveal a higher suicide rate in rural areas.

The federation says that latest Statistic New Zealand figures show there were 16 suicides per 100,000 people in rural areas compared with about 11 in urban areas.

Federated Farmers' chief executive Conor English says the rural community needs to take a more proactive approach in confronting the issue of depression.

As part of efforts to highlight the issue, Federated Farmers' Hawke's Bay dairy chair David Hunt has spoken of his battle with depression and how he's been able to deal with it.

Mr Hunt decided to talk about his own experience after a local farmer committed suicide. He says farmers can easily become isolated and many find it difficult to ask for help.

The Rural Support Trust is not surprised by the figures, saying suicide can be sparked by the stress of animal welfare, as well as by financial pressures and isolation.

Federated Farmers says it will talk to the Government about giving rural mental health services more resources to provide a faster response as there are waiting lists of three months in some regions.