14 June 2001
Virus blamed for farmer suicides
By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent
FOOT-and-mouth disease was blamed for the suicides of two mid-Wales farmers at inquests held on Thursday (14 June) at Welshpool, Powys.
Coroner John Hollis heard a harrowing account of discovery of the body of John Bayliss lying next to the carcasses of two ewes on his farm near Kerry.
A single shot from a gun that had string attached to its trigger killed him.
Mr Hollis heard that foot-and-mouth restrictions probably precipitated the death of the 56-year-old, who was worried he would lose his stock.
Recording a verdict of suicide, the coroner said it was clear that the foot-and-mouth restrictions had affected the farmer.
The inquest into the death of Glyn Lewis, a farmer, dealer and livestock haulier from Llanfyllin, heard his business was badly affected by restrictions.
Mr Lewis was found hanging in a barn shortly after some of his livestock were culled as dangerous contacts.
But Mr Hollis decided that a third farmer, Brian Oakley, took his life because of concern about the general state of farming, rather than foot-and-mouth.
After the inquests, representatives of both Welsh farming unions said that everyone involved in the industry was under stress, and had been for some time.
The National Farmers Union Cymru-Wales said it was desperately sad, but inevitable, that some people would crack under pressure of the farming crisis.
Peter Roberts, spokesman for the Farmers Union of Wales, insisted that the union could not comment on individual cases of suicide among farmers.
But foot-and-mouth had increased the already considerable pressure on all farmers, especially where restrictions had left individuals isolated on farms.
Mr Roberts praised help provided by organisations like the Welsh Institute of Rural Health, the Rural Stress Information Network and the Samaritans.
But farmers still needed to pick up the phone and ask for help, he added.