28 July 1995

Free packs aimed at cutting suicide rate

AN INFORMATION package to reduce the number of rural suicides was launched at the Royal Welsh Show.

During the past five years more than 20% of suicides in Powys involved people working in agriculture.

To tackle the problem, Handling Rural Stress was compiled by health professionals with a £1500 grant from the Mental Health Training budget. The pack advises on what causes stress, how it can be identified and where to find help.

Community psychiatric nurse Hilary David said: "It is hoped people who have the packs will be encouraged to recognise stress in their farming colleagues and be prepared to offer advice on how help can be obtained."

Vets, postmen, agricultural and NFU representatives, Welsh Office officials and others in regular contact with farmers will be offered the free packs.

Andrew Powell from the Brecons Family Health Services Authority said: "Our main concerns are whether farmers who are suffering from stress are aware of the services available and how they get access to them.

"Samaritans will accept third party referrals. So if someone feels they cant approach the farmer directly, they can phone the Samaritans who will follow up the case," explained Mr Powell. "We are trying to bridge the gap between the farmer and the services available to him."

There is still a hard core of farmers who arent prepared to step across to something they know nothing about. Those intermediary people, who have read the packs, might be able to make all the difference."