3 Dec 2010

Forum told hard times affect rural communities more than city dwellers

1:02 pm on 3 December 2010

A rural health forum has heard that rural communities suffer more from suicide and depression than city dwellers during economic recessions.

Wairarapa District Health Board suicide prevention officer Barry Taylor, told those attending a rural health forum in Wellington this week that relationship break-ups, arising particularly from financial stress, are a major factor.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests there has been an increase," he said.

"But we haven't seen the end of the recession and we'll see a lot more farmers suffering more emotional stress."

Mr Taylor said it's partly due to a strong view among farmers that they can handle any problems they may have.

He said opportunities to gather and gain support from others are often most helpful.

Dr Branko Sijnja of Balclutha also spoke at the forum. He said rural doctor shortages and heavy reliance on locums, or relieving doctors, are affecting patient care.

We're all experiencing big staff turnovers," he said.

"We had 33 doctors (at our practice) in three years. One child had 33 consultations with 15 doctors."