Everyone in farming knows someone who has committed suicide. It has become one of this industry's grimmest statistics, yet it remains very much the 'elephant in the room' that everybody knows is there, but steadfastly refuses to see.

The frank and open-ness of Doug Avery, the New Zealand farmer who shared with packed farming audiences throughout Scotland the message that 'it's OK to admit you're not OK', should be the catalyst for us all to evict the elephant from farming sitting rooms up and down this country.

In this week's edition of The Scottish Farmer, we begin a series of articles (pages 12 and 13) which brings out in to the open the struggle that the lifestyle of being a farmer – often in solitary loneliness – can have on the fragility of the mind.

Being a farmer is one of struggle. Financial worries, voluminous red tape, coping with poor weather, wrestling with busy times of year and juggling often fractious family ties, all play on the mind and can skew thinking in some very strange ways.

But it's very often the case that a problem shared is a problem halved. This is why we will be telling the story of how some people have coped with tragedy, with ill health and with loneliness. The one thing that has shone through is that not turning a blind eye to what is unfolding, either personally or from an outsider looking in, is the key to fighting off the Black Dog of depression and lack of self worth.

It's time for farmers – and indeed the industry in general – to face up to the fact that the ability to nurture and care for animals and crops, can also be put to great use with friends and neighbours. Then, there might be a more secure future for those who at times cannot cope.

Time and again we hear of 'I never would have thought that of him' or they 'don't seem the type to be depressed' and that's why those who service the industry also have a role to play in this. They are sometimes the only contact that many have with the 'real' world that is not up to its armpits in slurry, or snow, or hauling out a dead calf. They can be important sentinels and friends to those in need.

Our hope, then, is that by sharing the experiences of others and matching this with the wherewithal of where to seek help, for yourself or others, then the Black Dog will leave with the elephant ... for good.