What Not to Say to a Depressed Farmer

BY MARK TOWNLEY

Suicide rates in farmers are the highest of any occupation. That’s an alarming statistic. The exact numbers for farmer suicides is difficult to determine because farmer deaths are often reported as hunting, equipment or farming accidents instead of suicides. Access to highly lethal means — firearms, poisons, machinery — result in a large proportion of fatal suicide attempts. There are stories of farmers jumping to their deaths from the top of silos, hanging themselves in wells or deliberately falling into harvesters.

Farming is a stressful occupation and it’s one marked by long periods of loneliness.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, the following is a useful guide to what not to say to them even though you feel you want to. When you’re in the destabilising sandstorm that depression in a friend or loved one can create, these tips could be crucial.

Over coming weeks Country Squire Magazine will be looking in more detail at Farmer Depression, how to help deal with it and what others, such as the Government, should be doing to lessen and eradicate it.

What you feel like saying: “Other people have it much worse than you do.”

What you should say instead: I’m sorry that you’re hurting. How can I help you?

What you feel like saying: “You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

What you should say instead: Take it one day at a time, and I’ll be here with you through them all.

What you feel like saying: “Life isn’t fair.”

What you should say instead: I’m so sorry this has happened to you, but we can and WILL get you through this.

What you feel like saying: “You just have to deal with it.”

What you should say instead: You don’t have to deal with this alone. I am here for you.

What you feel like saying: “Life goes on.”

What you should say instead: You have so much to live for, and I will be with you to help you rediscover those things.

What you feel like saying: “I know how you feel, I was depressed once.”

What you should say instead: I can only imagine what you must be going through, but I will try to understand the best I can.

What you feel like saying: “You’re being selfish.”

What you should say instead: I really miss you. What can I do to help?

What you feel like saying: “Go out, have fun, have a drink, and forget about it.”

What you should say instead: I would love to spend some time with you, and I’m more than willing to be your shoulder to lean on. Maybe we can grab some coffee and catch up?

What you feel like saying: “You’re bringing me down.”

What you should say instead: I hate seeing you so down. What can I do to help?

What you feel like saying: “What do you even have to be depressed about?”

What you should say instead: I’m sorry I didn’t realise you were struggling, I’m here now.

What you feel like saying: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

What you should say instead: I can see that you are struggling, and it makes me upset. What can I do?

What you feel like saying: “You just need to get out of the house!”

What you should say instead: I don’t like the thought of you dealing with this alone. Maybe I can come over or we can go somewhere together.

What you feel like saying: “Everyone else is dealing with life, so why can’t you?”

What you should say instead: You seem to be having a difficult time and I just want you to know that I’m here.

What you feel like saying: “You’re strong, you’ll be fine.”

What you should say instead: I believe in you, and I know you can get through this. I will be here every step of the way.

(These tips came courtesy of a RD article which can be found here)  

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One thought on “What Not to Say to a Depressed Farmer

  1. You do not know how useful this article is to me right now. Thankyou for publishing this. We must shout the message from the rooftops that depression is normal and therefore get ourselves tuned in to deal with it rather than running away scared from it. Thankyou.

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