About 7000 copies of the Feeling Down on the Farm publication will be delivered this week to rural Wairarapa and Tararua homes in a bid to combat depression and suicide.
Neil McLaren, East Coast Rural Support Trust Wairarapa division chairman, said the launch of the newsprint resource at Pukaha Mt Bruce yesterday had coincided with the start of national Mental Health Awareness Week and also kicked off a 12-month campaign that will include flyers, follow-on meetings and suicide awareness training.
The 16-page publication included forewords from Wairarapa rural leaders, stories from survivors of depression, and information on getting help.
The trust had formed a team including trust members, Wairarapa District Health Board suicide prevention co-ordinator Jane Mills, Like Minds Like Mine Wairarapa co-ordinator Corrinne Oliver, Rabobank senior rural manager Matt Hood, Wairarapa clinical psychologist Sarah Doyle, Tinui farmer and Anglican minister Steve Thomson, and Federated Farmers Wairarapa president Jamie Falloon,
"We've taken a successful model and put our improvements in there as well. There are more deaths from suicide than people killed on the road but unfortunately it goes mostly under the radar. We want to change that."
Mr McLaren said he had lost close friends to suicide and it was vital "people are prepared to ask for help and keep an eye on family, friends and neighbours".
"Farmers have traditionally kept to themselves. They work alone and, with more wives and partners working off the farm as well nowadays, they are more alone than they used to be," Mr McLaren said.
"If they're acting strangely, find out if they're okay and point them in the direction of help. We want people in need to seek help, young and old."
The Rev Steve Thomson, 58, had developed acute depression in the late 1980s and his recovery led him to become an Anglican minister, he said.
"I had no idea I was dealing with depression for six months or so, but things started coming right almost as soon as I sought help," he said.
"I couldn't work out what was going wrong with me until I had a panic attack one day. I went to hospital in an ambulance but they couldn't find anything wrong and told me to take a week off. So I sat in bed for a week and went from depressed to badly depressed," he said.
"I called the local vicar, I was so desperate. I told him things weren't right and he had better pray for me. He told me I had depression and took me to the GP," Mr Thomson said.
"It started me searching for the meaning of life. I looked at a few different religions and came around to Christianity," he said.
Mr Thomson has worked as vicar in the small Wairarapa community since 2000, he said, and was counselling six people from rural and urban areas who had sought his help with depression and suicide.
If you or someone you know is facing a crisis situation, call 0800 653 357 in Tararua or 0508 432 432 in Wairarapa. For urgent help call 111.