Bad Harvest Casts a Long Shadow…

It’s too early to say how many. But it’s certain that the current drought in Australia will lead to a number farmers taking their own lives. In the Financial Times today is coverage of the Australian drought and its impact on farmers. From that report comes this augury:

“I think it will push people over the edge,” says Mr Donald. “The hedges have used up a lot of equity and a lot of people are faced with very difficult decisions.”

John Macdonald, professor of primary healthcare at the University of Western Sydney, says the drought has raised the risk of suicide among Australia’s farmers to a point where they should be classified alongside high-risk groups such as the country’s Aborigines and those who have been incarcerated. “There is no doubt that the severe economic stress that many farmers face because of the drought puts them at much greater risk of suicide,” he said.

Nevertheless, many of the farmers doing it tough on the land remain optimistic. “You have to be,” says Mr Donald. “You put your faith in the rural industry. You rely on the support of your family, and the knowledge you are not alone.”

As many farmers are discovering, they are all too alone.