TFGA sounds alarm over high depression and suicide rates among farmers

31 March 2023

The risk of depression and suicide amongst Tasmania's farmers is a significant issue needing urgent attention, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has warned.

The recent National Farmer Wellbeing Report, commissioned by dairy co-operative Norco in partnership with the National Farmers Federation, found that 45 per cent of respondents had felt depressed.

Of the 1300 farmers surveyed, almost a third had attempted self-harm or suicide.

Natural disasters, financial stress and cost pressures were the top three factors affecting farmers' mental health, the study identified.

"We know that men living in rural areas are at increased risk of suicide," says TFGA director and Launceston GP Dr Elizabeth Lord.

"Farmers in particular are at risk because they can be socially isolated, they work very long hours, and they have a job that is greatly impacted on by natural disasters such as floods and fires."

"There is also still the stigma of mental health and seeking help.

"We need to promote cultural change and break down resistance towards seeking help and the barriers to accessing mental health services in rural areas".

Dr Lord said access to mental health services across the state was becoming increasingly difficult, with waiting times of several months to see counsellors and psychologists.

"The whole of Tasmania is affected by this but for people living in rural areas in particular it is incredibly difficult to access help for mental health issues."

"For the sake of our rural communities we need to improve this."

"Agriculture is one of the most important industries in Tasmania and we need to support our farmers.

The TFGA strongly encourage anyone in need of support to reach out for help. The Lifeline helpline at 13 11 14 and the Beyond Blue support line at 1300 224 636 are both ready to provide support 24/7.