Farming suicides the painful cost of CQ's worsening drought
THE very confronting but true toll of the drought gripping Central Queensland was yesterday laid bare by a person connected to the region's rural industry, who said five families he knew had lost loved ones to suicide since last Christmas.
The raw and emotional insight also revealed that while farmers are known for their resilience and business savvy, sometimes it is their children who are most at risk of the mental health crisis that is taking shape.
"Most of those suicides were young kids," the source said.
"I don't know their circumstances, no-one ever will, but it's really tough out there.
"Young kids are feeling the helplessness and the pressure differently I guess.
"It's an epidemic out there."
The source said these tragedies were not just felt in the rural towns where they happened, but also extended to the businesses and service providers that supplied them.
"I've had lots of cries on the phone with a couple of my clients in these situations.
"You know we all get put under pressure, but when someone takes their life, there's no coming back from that."
The source agreed to speak about the issue to let rural people know that help was always just a phone call away, no matter what the circumstances, but also to send a message to politicians.
"I get phone calls from desperate people at five o'clock in the morning, seven o'clock at night and weekends.
"My (family) and my (staff) keep telling me to settle down, but I take it very personally when someone's (equipment) isn't working, because you've got to get it going for them.
"Slim Dusty made 101 records out of droughts and flooding rains - that's Australia.
"Producers expect drought, but the biggest trouble is they're getting no help from the politicians.
"Australia gives lots of assistance to overseas countries in a heartbeat whereas drought relief is a slow, strangling python.
"The rural producers are only a very small percentage of the population and people in the city don't realise how tough they do it.
"These poor cattlemen are spending lots and lots of money to keep production up - the ones who I deal with are really struggling mentally.
"So if you know someone with a rural background - shake their hand, look them in the eye and shout them a feed or buy them a beer, because they are the backbone of the country."
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Headspace 1800 650 890
Reach Out at au.reachout.com