Farmers are reputed to be hardy and they have to be.
Even with modern equipment, methods and technology, farming is a physically and intellectually demanding occupation.
But that hardy exterior can and does hide deep, and too often dark, feelings:
Depression is an increasing issue for rural communities. The latest data released by the Ministry of Health shows there is a significantly higher rate of suicide in rural areas than in urban areas.
The most recent suicide rate for people living in rural areas is 16 per 100,000 people compared to 11.2 for every 100,000 people living in urban areas.
With mounting compliance costs, increasing local and central government demands, weather events, coupled with the reduced forecasted lamb and milk pay-outs, along with the normal stresses and strains of life, things are only going to get harder for rural communities. . . .
Stories about depression by Federated Farmers can be found here.
Depression among farmers isn’t peculiar to New Zealand.
Australian entertainer Murray Hartin, was concerned about it in his country and that prompted him to write this poem:
RAIN FROM NOWHERE
His cattle didn’t get a bid, they were fairly bloody poor,
What was he going to do? He couldn’t feed them anymore,
The dams were all but dry, hay was thirteen bucks a bale,
Last month’s talk of rain was just a fairytale,
His credit had run out, no chance to pay what’s owed,
Bad thoughts ran through his head as he drove down Gully Road.
“Geez, great grandad bought the place back in 1898,
“Now I’m such a useless bastard, I’ll have to shut the gate.
“Can’t support my wife and kids, not like dad and those before,
“Crikey, Grandma kept it going while Pop fought in the war.”
With depression now his master, he abandoned what was right,
There’s no place in life for failures, he’d end it all tonight. . .
You can read the rest of the poem here.