A New Zealand dairy farmer is setting up NZ’s second mental health first aid program in rural areas in response to high suicide figures.

Paul Bourke is working with the Taranaki Rural Support Trust to set it up. “There are a lot of training courses for helping people with physical health problems but not mental,” Bourke said. “There is a lot of ignorance out there for how much people are hurting.”

Last year, figures show 17 people took their own lives in Taranaki. Nationally, about 75 farmers have killed themselves in the past three years.

Bourke says training courses are due to begin in November and will cover stress, anxiety, depression, psychotic illnesses and substance abuse plus suicide awareness.