A group of Kiwi comedians are set to hit the road for a series of shows designed to get farmers off the farm and laughing.
Farmstrong, a group which promotes rural wellness, has helped organise five further comedy nights after a successful sold-out first show in Waikato.
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The initiative is also supported by NZ Young Farmers and the Rural Support Trust. They say it aims to help highlight the issue of mental health and wellbeing, and are a way for farmers to take a break.
"This event is for farmers young and old, rural professionals and supporters of the rural community," said Michelle Stevens of Farmstrong.
"The first comedy night in the Waikato was a huge hit. People really appreciate being able to switch off for a few hours and have a laugh."
The show in Taranaki is on October 6, followed by Whangarei, central Hawke's Bay, Winton and the Maniototo in early November.
Central Taranaki Young Farmers member Jessie Waite is excited about the event.
"Lambing will be finished and it's just before most dairy farms start mating season, so it's a great time to get off farm for a night and recharge the batteries."
Organisers say there is a serious issue behind the shows. Figures released last month by the chief coroner reveal New Zealand's suicide rate has risen for the fourth year in a row.
The provisional statistics show 668 people took their own lives in the 2017/18 year. The highest number of suicides were recorded in 20-24 age group.
"The figures are tragic and a major concern. They highlight just how important it is for people to ensure they don't neglect their own wellbeing," said Ms Waite.
Tickets for the comedy nights are $20 each, with all proceeds going directly to Farmstrong. They're available at www.youngfarmers.co.nz/nzyf
Where to find help and support:
- Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
- Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email firstname.lastname@example.org or online chat
- Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)