Clarkson speaks out about alarming suicide rates in farming

With the rate of suicide reported to be alarmingly higher in farming compared to the national average, Jeremy Clarkson is on a mission to help raise awareness of poor mental health in farming caused by mounting financial and societal pressures.

Farming communities in the UK have faced unprecedented challenges over the last few years, largely stemming from uncertainty around Brexit and future policy, the pandemic, market volatility in the wake of the Ukraine war, declining BPS payments and avian flu.

Therefore, it is no surprise that recent surveys are reporting increasingly concerning levels of mental health among those working in the agriculture industry. RABI’s Big Farming Survey conducted in 2021 has revealed that 36% of farmers in the UK are probably or possibly depressed, while 47% are constantly struggling with anxiety.

Moreover, of the 15,000 respondents involved in the survey, only 8% of women and 12% of men reported having good mental well-being.

Having experienced first-hand the demands and stresses of the job through running his own farm, Jeremy Clarkson is trying to raise awareness of poor mental health in the industry and the unacceptable number of rural workers who take their own lives each year.

The former Top Gear presenter was quoted by the Daily Star as saying: ‘How many farmers are literally on their own, absolutely on their own right now, on a tractor, and all they’re thinking is, ‘I’m going to have zero money,’ and they’ve got a family at home.’

‘It’s why the suicide rate on farms is just…’

The mental health crisis in the farming sector is further underlined by the fact that more lives are lost through suicide than as a result of fatal farm accidents each year.

According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 36 suicides recorded in England and Wales among those working in the farming and agricultural industry in 2021. Meanwhile, 22 farm workers lost their lives in fatal accidents in 2021/22.

In addition, of the hundreds of farmers under the age of 40 surveyed by the Farm Safety Foundation early this year, 94% agreed poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing the industry today, highlighting the need for prompt action from the government, organisations and the general public to address the issue.

If you are a farmer struggling to cope or are worried about someone, get in touch with one of the farming charities offering free, confidential support. The RABI helpline 0800 188 4444 is attended 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, while the Farming Community Network (FCN) helpline 03000 111 999 is answered every day of the year from 7am to 11pm.

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