Farming is an addiction for many. Once you’re in it, you can hardly imagine another life. Sadly, it seems that is quite literally true for some. According to research reported in The Weekly Times, farmers are twice as likely to commit suicide than other Australians.
Research in 2010 showed farmers are among three occupations with significantly higher risk of male suicide, alongside transport and construction workers.
Between 1997 and 2002, suicide rates among Australian farmers were between 1.5 and 2.2 times higher than among the general population.
The researchers want to know why and so do I. My suspicion is that part of the cause may lie in one of the legendary strengths of the farmer psyche: resilience. We deal with drought, floods, price collapses and huge workloads by just getting on with it. I’ve often heard people refer to these stressful events by saying, “Ah, but that’s just part of farming”.
But what happens when they all happen at once, coincide with a tragedy or simply become too much? Does that mean we’re “not made of the right stuff to cut it”? Absolutely not. The flip side of the resilient farmer is the whinger. Maybe we ought to value those “whinges” more than we do. They might just save lives.