Talking about suicide in the farming industry is tough.
Talking about it might be tough but it’s also incredibly important. But, what’s even more important is how we talk about it.
In 2019, there were 102 suicides registered in England and Wales in those working in farming and agricultural related trades according to the Office of National Statistics. These included farmers, managers and proprietors of ag related services and those working in agricultural related trades and elementary ag occupations – some of the categories included were gardeners, horticulturalist, fishermen and women, forestry workers, grounds workers and greenkeepers – 47 of which were among gardeners and landscape gardeners.
We’ve come such a long way with how mental health is spoken about in the industry but there is always room for improvement, especially when the conversation concerns suicide.
It is often said that suicide is the last stigma of mental health and, although in our most recent research, 89% of the 450 young farmers surveyed told us that the way to remove the stigma of mental ill health is by talking about it, with a topic as sensitive as suicide, there needs to be a balance…
The problem is, the less we talk about the issue in the industry, the more we alienate people experiencing crisis and the more likely they are to act on those thoughts. Yet, if we get the conversation wrong – by talking about suicide insensitively, making false claims or without being properly informed – we can actually add to the shame and stigma that already exists and could be potentially harmful to people who are already struggling.
Too often we are reluctant to intervene when someone we know or work with appears to be in serious distress but please be assured that asking someone if they are feeling suicidal does not put the idea into their head. In fact, it could be the most enormous relief to them that someone has recognised their despair.
You don’t have to be a medical professional to help
It’s about showing how much you care; being compassionate, and relating to others on a basic, human level. YANA, the rural mental health support charity based in Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcestershire runs a suicide prevention campaign specifically aimed at the farming and rural sector using the mnemonic TRACTOR – 7 Tractor Facts to Save a Life. It is no coincidence that TRACTOR and FACTS include the word ACT.
The team at YANA were advised by the UK’s leading suicide prevention charity Grassroots and their useful pocket-sized resource encourages people to ACT when concerned about someone, gives possible warning signs and offers advice for those who might be feeling suicidal.
The handy credit-card sized tool is available from email@example.com or you can download the Grassroots’ STAY ALIVE App. STAY ALIVE is packed full of useful information that you can use if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.
As YANA say on their website: “if you think someone is in crisis and having suicidal thoughts, please take action immediately” …their life could depend on it!
• If you or someone you know needs help, please contact SAMARITANS free on 116 123 Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samaritans.org to learn more.
• To learn more about GRASSROOTS and suicide prevention visit www.prevent-suicide.org.uk
• To learn more about YANA visit www.yanahelp.org To speak to someone confidentially call 0300 323 0400 or email email@example.com