Australian Farmers Committing Suicide Due To Drought

Australian Farmers Committing Suicide

Australian farmers commit suicide as hope evaporates
By Michael Perry Thu Oct 19, 2:44 AM ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) - One Australian farmer commits suicide every four days, defeated by the country's worst drought in 100 years which has left them with dust-bowl paddocks and a mountain of debt, says a national mental health body.

As drought rolls into a sixth year, stoic farmers are reduced to tears under the stress of trying to produce a crop and hold onto land sometimes farmed by the same family for generations. One male farmer every four days is committing suicide," Jeff Kennett, chairman of beyondblue, said on Thursday.

"My fear is that when under prolonged stress and when they see their assets totally denuded of value, that we will see an increase (in suicides)," Kennett told local radio.
The rate among male farmers and farm workers is more than twice the national average, the NSW Farmers Association says.

The figure is all the more worrying because only about 10 percent of Australia's 20 million population live in rural areas and the number has been declining for years as the rural economy struggles. The vast majority of Australians live in cities. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics suicide report says 2,098 Australians took their lives in 2004.

Crop losses stretch across the country, 92 percent of economically dominant New South Wales state is in drought, and farmers have started off-loading stock before the hot, dry summer when they would be forced to buy feed and water.

With an El Nino weather pattern, which will bring more dry weather and soaring temperatures, now on the horizon and little prospect of rain until early in 2007, rural hope is evaporating like water in Australia's mud-cracked dams and rivers.

Farmers' wives calling talk-back radio in the city describe their husbands' depression at trudging out into their dry paddocks, day after day, knowing they are losing money.

Prime Minister John Howard has announced a $350 million (US$263 million) aid package, but Kennett says farmers also need help coping with the depression and stress of years of drought.
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This is about as bad as it gets. SIX YEARS this drought has lasted and it is now killing people. WHERE is the Australian government? WHERE IS THE AID? This also happened in India and does bring another repercussion of climate change to the forefront... the toll it will have on the human spirit. It is immoral to allow this to continue, and for the Australian government to continue to bury its head in the sand regarding the causes of this drought, chief among them human induced climate change.