4 Apr 2014

Isolation a factor in farm suicides - lobby

6:27 am on 4 April 2014

Federated Farmers says the isolation of farming contributes to the sector's high suicide rate, by affecting physical as well as mental wellbeing.

The Law Commission is recommending relaxing restrictions on reporting of suicides and Federated Farmers believes that would make talking about depression and stress easier.

In 2010, 92 farmers took their own lives.

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Quad bikes and tractors each kill about five people on farms, annually. Suicide killed 92 farmers in 2010. Photo: PHOTO NZ

That compares with an average of five quad bike deaths and five tractor accident deaths each year.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell believes physical problems, left untreated because of the 'tyranny of distance', also contributes to farmers' stress.

"For me, the nearest hospital's over 50km one way, and 12km the other. So going to get help or going to get things done is a hop in the car and a journey.

"So you tend to hobble round on the sore ankle or you might be seeing stars when you bend over but you go 'oh well I'll just chug through it.'

"Often, I feel that a lot of the mental stuff is around the fact that their physical wellbeing is not quite right."