After a spate of suicides in the rural Bay of Plenty community of Reporoa, young farmers have stood up and stripped off to say ‘enough is enough’.
Over the years, the small community has been rattled by a number of youth suicides. Just a couple of months ago, another young farmer is believed to have taken their life.
“Everyone was hit really hard,” said Reporoa Young Farmers events coordinator Laura Pulman.
At the time, lots of the community relied on the Rural Support Trust, a national support service for farmers, to talk through the pain.
Many benefitted greatly from the service, so the Reporoa Young Farmers committee decided it was time to give back to them, she said.
After putting their heads together, the committee thought what better way to “lighten the mood” about something “so heavy” than to sell a semi-nude Christmas calendar, Pulman said.
The idea was inspired by the naked farmer theme that had already swept through Australia.
Basically, the concept was “getting naked to show bravery” and encouraged anyone suffering to show bravery themselves and speak up, she said.
“No one should have to deal with their struggles alone.”
Sure enough, the committee got together, got naked and posed on various farm items like hay bale stacks and fences.
The photoshoot was done by Pulman’s mother, which Pulman said was absolutely hilarious.
The calendars were then put together and taken to various businesses to sell.
All proceeds will go directly to the Rural Support Trust.
Pulman said the stresses that came from the day-to-day farm life, combined with the isolation of a rural community meant many struggled with mental health battles.
These factors were why the Reporoa Young Farmers group had been created in the first place.
The committee raised money by picking up hay or covering silage stacks and used it to organise events to get the young farmers “off the farm” and out socialising, she said.
“Sometimes just being able to go down the road and have a beer with some mates can make all the difference for somebody.”
Recently the group had held a large boat party in Taupō, which many over the members loved, she said.
There was about 40 youth in the group, with overseas temporary youth farmers also making the most of it, Pulman said.
There were Rural Young Farmers groups in spots across New Zealand which were overseen by a national body.
The calendars are still available at local businesses and on the Reporoa Young Farmers Facebook page.
Where to get mental health help
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• The Word
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.