Talking about mental health, says farmer who lost his father to suicide

A Norfolk farmer who lost his father to suicide has urged rural communities to be transparent about their mental health in the face of mounting pressures on the industry.

Kit Papworth joined mental health experts from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and the agricultural welfare charity You Are Not Alone (Yana) to talk about his father, David, who was committed suicide in August 2018 at the age of 73.

See also: Agricultural Mental Health Week sparks a global conversation about well-being

The North Norfolk producer said ongoing changes in farm policy and funding, combined with volatile weather conditions, labor shortages and soaring costs, have made farming an industry extremely difficult and stressful.

A recent Farm Safety Foundation (FSF) survey found that 88% of farmers under 40 see poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing the industry.

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Mr Papworth called on farmers and families to look out for each other, but said more work needed to be done to address some of the issues that cause depression and injury in the first place, such as improving the agriculture’s poor health and safety record.

“My father worked hard all his life and suffered from back pain from an operation he had. It became clear that he was going to have permanent back pain for the rest of his life, ”Mr. Papworth said.

“We didn’t really realize how depressed he was, and he was becoming depressed and unable to lead his normal, daily working life.

“One morning in August, he decided to kill himself. There was no advance warning, he left no note, some of us had seen him the day before.

Mr Papworth said if sharing his story could save a person’s life or help a family, it was worth it.

“The impact on us has been devastating – it’s a great loss to us, our farm business and the rural community. I chose to be open about this to try to help others, ”he said.


Emma Haley, who recently joined Yana as a charity director, said she was shocked at the prevalence of suicide and mental health issues in agriculture, after speaking to farmers from different sectors.

In the UK, 133 people in agriculture and related farming trades lost their lives by suicide in 2019, according to the FSF.

“It is really necessary that we continue to work hard and raise awareness,” Ms. Haley said.

“If we can normalize talking about how we feel and checking in with each other every day from toddler ages, then we are raising generations who are more self-aware, capable. reflective and able to take care of their own mental health and well-being, and understand how to help each other.

Where to get help

If you need assistance, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or by email [email protected]

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