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Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers

Why mental illness is a big problem for global agriculture

Farming has some of the highest suicide rates of any profession in many parts of the world. Emily Thomas explores why depression and stress amongst farmers is a global problem that is thought to be on the rise.

It can be an incredibly tough business and many farmers struggle to make ends meet. But aside from financial pressures, are there other aspects of agricultural work and life that could contribute to mental illness?

Farmers in Australia explain why social and physical isolation, along with a culture of stoicism and strength, could be contributing to the problem, especially amongst men. And a specialist in farm succession in the US state of Oregon explains why family pressures and the tricky business of inheritance can cause enormous stress, and even lead people to take their own lives. Plus, we hear how social media and criticism of farmers over climate change and animal welfare might be adding to the problem.

But there are solutions - we hear how mindfulness, governments, and even farm animals themselves can be the key to escaping depression.

For advice and support on the issues raised in this programme, and details of help available where you live, visit www.befrienders.org

(Picture: A farmer looking out over his fields. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

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