Stressed farmers urged to 'have a yarn' on World Suicide Prevention Day

Warning: This article discusses suicide.

Stressed farmers are being urged to reach out to someone and have a yarn on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Statistics show suicide rates in New Zealand are higher in rural parts of the country than in urban areas. And with 2020 being a tough year for farmers, there are concerns for the mental wellbeing of many in the agriculture sector.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for health and wellbeing Wayne Langford says drought, floods and changing regulations have brought an untold amount of stress and anxiety to farmers this year.

"Nothing causes stress more than uncertainty and not knowing where you're going," Langford told Newshub on Thursday. 

"So I think a lot of famers are feeling it in that sense at the moment."

He said although work had been done in recent years to provide more support for the mental health of farmers and those in rural communities, much more still needed to be done. 

"Just because it's improving doesn't mean we don't need to be vigilant of it and always working on it, because it can certainly creep up on you and kind of bite you in the backside," he said.

Last month a survey by DairyNZ pinpointed financial concerns, changing regulations, and the public perception of farming as the greatest cause of mental health challenges facing farmers.

Langford said anyone feeling the pressure should "reach out to someone and have a yarn".

"It doesn't necessarily have to be about mental health in itself. You can reach out to maybe take some decisions off your mind - it can be just to change the topic and get a different thought pattern going on inside your head," he said.

"I think sometimes people are worried that when people say 'talk about mental health' you've got to talk about their feelings and what not - that's not always the case. Sometimes it's just lessening the load so you can give your mind a break and kind of work through it that way."

Langford also encouraged people to check in on their friends, family and those in their local community to see how they are doing. 

"If farmers look after themselves as well as they look after their animals then I think we'll be in a really good place."

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

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)