3 Apr 2014

Easing of suicide reporting rules welcomed

2:07 pm on 3 April 2014

Federated Farmers says the sooner the media can report a suspected suicide, the sooner the appalling rate among farmers could begin to drop.

The Law Commission is recommending relaxing media restrictions on the reporting of suicide, other than the method of death, following a review of the Coroners Act.

Suicide is the most common method of farmer death - in 2010 there were 92. Federated Farmers says that compares with an average five tractor deaths and five quad bike deaths a year.

Its health and safety spokesperson, Jeanette Maxwell, says reporting of suicides among farmers would begin to break down the wall of silence in rural communities.

This way, she says, "You could say to someone you're not the only one, you're not on your own." Not being able to talk about suicidal tendencies, she says, has meant not being able to have conversations with people about how they're feeling and how they might be helped.

It has long been believed that the isolation of farming contributes to suicides in the sector and Ms Thomas believes that physical problems left untreated, again because of the isolation, are another factor.

To bring the number of suicides down, she says, people who notice something is wrong really need to speak up.

Ms Maxwell says the farming community believes that some farm deaths officially found to be "accidents" could actually be suicides.