The shocking news on the rise in suicide rate is something which touches us all in the farming sector. Tragedies are all too common in the sector and it is for us all to continue to work on tackling the issue.

The depressing numbers are despite progress being made in opening up the dialogue on mental health and well-being in farming and the supporting industries. Over the last ten years we have become more open to discussion and have held many great events around the country on the topic. Doug Avery’s tour in 2018 was a step change for the industry to open-up on the challenges of working in agriculture. The frank and honest delivery from someone sharing their experience has the power to teach us all about how to better support one another.

Farming goes beyond work for most in the sector, it is more a way of life which includes our purpose, friends, family and even our hobby, this is both a great strength but also makes it difficult to get a break. It can be both an isolating job and a very public career, as peers and neighbours witness the progress of a business. Everyone at times will find this balance difficult to handle. If you add family pressures into the mix, all ingredients are there for stress levels to soar.

READ MORE: Charities encourage seeking help amid rising suicide concern

Therefore, never underestimate the power of a kind word, an invitation to an event or simply choose to call rather than text. Sadly, modern farming is driving us apart with online sales and zoom meetings often replacing discussion groups and market days. But with the dark nights approaching a new programme of meetings and events will be starting up and they are vital for our community to stay connected.

Another important area, particularly amongst the under 35s is the farmer whatsapp group. These forums are communication channels for thousands of farmers across Scotland and a convenient way to stay connected for busy folk on the go. They can also be important tools to check-in one someone if they have been quieter than usual. The younger generation have made huge strides with proactive steps on mental and physical well-being with augers well for the future.

It has never been easier to connect with others in the sector but that we still need to make the effort to pick up the phone, knock on the door or wind the window down and have a chat with the neighbour.