SCOTTISH FARMERS are very much part of a close-knit community – one big agricultural family. For this reason, there are none within that community who will not have known or experienced in some form, the grief associated with losing someone to suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged between 20 and 34 years old in the UK, with men three times more likely than women to end their own life. Men are less likely to ask for help or talk about depressive or suicidal feelings than women.

Despite figures for attempted suicide being higher amongst the female population, completed suicides are higher amongst men as more lethal means are used to end their lives. In 2017, there were 680 recorded cases of suicide in Scotland and of that number, 522 were male.

In the farming community there is still very much a stigma around mental health and suicide. With all the pressures which come with this lifestyle, there has never been a demographic in greater need of a mental health revolution.

Suicide rates are believed to be higher in farming than in any other occupation. Figures suggest one farmer a week chooses to take their own life in the UK. The current climate of farming in Scotland brings with it many challenges, such as being at the mercy of volatile markets and turbulent weather patterns; falling food prices and labour shortages, as well as the social isolation that comes with working often long and lonely hours to make ends meet.

Like in other occupations such as veterinary medicine, farming also carries higher suicide rates as there is greater access to potentially deadly materials and devices.

As a farming industry, we all have a responsibility to acknowledge that suicide is a silent and harrowing killer in our agricultural community and that often cases we hear of may seem utterly shocking, as it can happen to those who show little or no signs of deterioration.

It is important to listen to those with personal experiences with suicide, if we as an industry are to build the tools to be able to cope with our own struggles and grief. To learn more about what measures could be taken at an early stage to prevent suicide from ever becoming an option. The more we become aware of the mental health crisis facing farming, the more we can do to ease the conversation around discussing and understanding poor mental health.

Guidance and support

If you have personally been affected by any of the content in this series and would like to seek further advice, please see the contact details of specific organisations below:

Breathing Space – Lines are open Mon – Thu between 6pm - 2am and from Fri 6pm – Mon 6am

RSABI - Helpline open seven days between 7am – 11pm on 0300 111 4166 or

Scottish Association of Mental Health – Call the info service on 0141 530 1000 Mon – Fri between 9-5 or

Samaritans – Helpline open 24/7, on 116 123 or 08457 90 90 90 or

Support in Mind Scotland (National Rural Mental Health Forum) Call on 0131 662 4359 Mon – Fri between 9am – 5pm or

If you need urgent medical attention, then please call NHS 24 on 111 or call emergency services on 999.