There is no doubt farmers are at risk when it comes to mental health. It’s a physically and psychologically demanding occupation and is characterised by high rates of stress and suicide.
That’s why it’s so important Gotcha4Life takes pro-active steps to keep our men physically and emotionally healthy. It’s equally important friends, families and rural communities are aware of the risks, and keep a careful eye on their men.
And while the weather can have a disastrous impact on a farmer’s livelihood and stress levels, researchers have now proven things are unlikely to improve.
A study has been conducted in India, (where more than 130,000 people take their own lives each year and suicide rates have almost doubled since 1980) which has established a clear link between suicide and climate change, claiming global warming is responsible for more than 59,000 suicides in India alone over the last 30 years.
University of California researcher, PhD candidate Tamma Carleton’s report is proof failing harvests that push farmers into poverty have a significant impact on mental health.
Ms Carleton has found high temperatures and low rainfall during the growing season substantially impacts annual suicide rates, however similar weather patterns have no effects during the off-season when few crops are grown, which she says indicates agriculture is a critical link.
It’s hoped this study will help people better-understand the human cost of climate change. “This tragedy is unfolding today,” she says. “This is not a problem for future generations. This is our problem right now.”
Gotcha4Life spokesman Gareth Pike says Australia needs to learn from the results of this study.
“Australian farmers are in a high-risk industry,” he says. “As in India, our farmers fall victim to scorching heat and unpredictable rainfall. These weather patterns lead to crop loss, drive up food prices and affect household finances. We can see that right across the world, where often the males of the household turn to suicide.
“One lesson we can take from this is the devastating impact of climate change across the whole of humanity.
“Closer to home, we need to consider the impact of weather on the mental health of our farmers.
“Being aware of the problem is the first step. We need to do something now to support our men working the land.
“This is why we are encouraging men to start forming strong, meaningful relationships with other men. So they have someone to turn to if times get tough.
“At Gotcha4Life we are also sponsoring male Lifeline counsellors, because giving men someone to talk to is vital to improved mental health. Communication is key.”