THE Samaritans are stepping up their efforts to offer support to members of farming and rural communities in a bid to tackle shocking suicide and accident rates.

As part of their plans to engage with these communities and to ‘demystify’ the organisation, members of its Yorkshire and Humberside region are to attend a range of rural events in the coming months, starting with the Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show (YAMS) today (Wednesday, February 5).

The Samaritans are expanding a regional Rural Support Initiative launched last year after the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed in 2018 the ‘brutal facts’ that the suicide rate amongst farmers was one of the highest of all occupations in the UK, with more than one farmer per week taking their own life.

The organisation said many work-based accidents in the industry have been attributed to inattentiveness caused by stress and other mental-health issues.

David Moyles, the rural support co-ordinator for the region, said in addition to other pressures on this community it was now being blamed by some groups for causing environmental damage.

“The rural community and the agricultural community feel isolated, unloved, misunderstood and generally that their efforts are not fully appreciated,” he added.

Samaritans in the region have been working closely with groups such as the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS), Future Farmers of Yorkshire, The Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.

This year will be the second time they have attended YAMS, and they also had a presence at the 2019 Great Yorkshire Show, as reported at the time in The Northern Farmer.

David said this initiative had been launched in Yorkshire not only because of the farming issue but also because the region itself had a relatively high suicide rate.

People aged from their 30s to 50s were most at risk in the farming sector, but there was also a developing statistic that those aged 18 to 24 were becoming vulnerable, which was why their campaign included engaging with Young Farmers’ groups.

Last year at YAMS they spoke to farmers who told them they did not need help.

“There is that reluctance to accept or understand that there is a problem here,” he said, adding the community may be in denial and it would be interesting to see if they detected any change in attitude at this year’s event.

He said the group put a significant emphasis on self-help, but if that could not be used then there were others who could help - and Samaritans maintained that talking did help.

“If you don’t feel you can talk to anyone near you, family and friends, for whatever reason, then there are others you can talk to, such as us, who offer a 24/7 service which is confidential and where no judgement is made,” he added.

The Samaritans have 201 branches across the UK and Ireland with more than 20,000 volunteers offering a 24-hour, seven days a week freephone and confidential telephone service (116123) as well as SMS (07725 909090) and email ( portals.

The Yorkshire and Humberside Region has 17 branches that are also open, at well-publicised times, to receive callers who prefer to talk ‘face to face’.

The events being attended by the Samaritans include:

* February 5 – Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show (YAMS), Murton, York

* February 21 – Young Farmers Annual Forum, Skipton

* May 23 – Young Farmers Annual Rally, Thirsk

* July 14 to 16– Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate

* July 22 – Driffield Agricultural Show

* August 1 – Emley Show

* August 6 to 9 – Country File Live, Castle Howard

* September 12 – Penistone Show

* September 21 – Nidderdale Show, Pateley Bridge.