Farming Family Urge People to #KeepTalking
09 June 2020
A West Lothian farming family have chosen to speak openly about their experience of losing a member of their family to suicide, as part of a drive to raise awareness of mental health and the importance of talking.
In a video launched this week, Robert Arkley and his sister Susan - along with family members George and Alasdair Allan - describe the impact of the tragic death of their uncle David Arkley, which left the family devastated.
The family, who are based at Kingsfield, near Linlithgow, have bravely decided to talk about what happened eight years ago in the short film, as part of the #KeepTalking campaign being run by RSABI, the charity which supports people in Scottish agriculture.
The timing of the #KeepTalking campaign coincides with the end of the main period of calving, lambing and other spring work, when there is traditionally a quieter period and people could be at particular risk of feeling lonely, anxious or unhappy. This year there will be the additional impact of COVID 19 restrictions.
The campaign runs until June 21st which would have been the final day of the Royal Highland Show and is actively encouraging farmers, crofters and others involved in agriculture to make the time to pick up the phone, or chat online, to connect with other people.
Susan Arkley of Kingsfield said the family’s very strong hope is that people watching the video and hearing their story will realise just how important it is to take time to talk and listen to others.
“It is hard for us as a family to understand why David didn’t talk to us about how he was feeling and we are sure if he had just spoken about how he was feeling, we would still have him with us.
“So we hope that by us all speaking about it as part of the RSABI campaign, we might encourage other people who might be feeling like he was, to find someone they can talk to. There is always someone to talk to and if you don’t feel you can speak to a friend, neighbour or family member, please pick up the phone and speak with RSABI.”
Nina Clancy, Chief Executive of RSABI, extended heartfelt thanks to the family for their courageous decision to share their experience with others so openly.
“The video is a very powerful account of what the family went through after suddenly losing David eight years ago. Their experience shows just how far-reaching and long-lasting the impact of the loss of a family member in this tragic way can be. “One clear message is that people like David - who was popular and outgoing - can appear to be ok, when they are not.
“We would strongly encourage anyone who is feeling low, or just not themselves, to find someone to talk openly with. RSABI is also here to help – our helpline is open 365 days a year from 7am – 11pm and is totally confidential.”
The on-going RSABI campaign includes a National #KeepTalking Day on June 18th, which was due to be the first day of the Royal Highland Show. On that day, RSABI and the campaign’s partners, ambassadors and supporters will be encouraging everyone to make a call to someone they haven’t spoken with in the past six months.
“We are very pleased with the response we have had to the campaign so far and our thanks go to everyone who is supporting us to spread the word and encourage us all to #KeepTalking,” said Nina Clancy, Chief Executive of RSABI.
“With the adrenalin rush of spring work past we are concerned that people working in agriculture may find themselves feeling more isolated in the coming weeks when they would usually be getting out to auction markets and agricultural shows around the country.”
RSABI has a helpline supported by RHASS - 0300 111 4166 - which is available seven days a week, 365 days a year, and Ms Clancy said the charity’s staff are ready and waiting to help people and to signpost other sources of support.
During the four-week campaign, RSABI is focusing on four priority areas, spelling TALK: Talk to people; Act now (don’t wait); Listen – people may seem ok but they may not be; and KeepTalking even if things are difficult.
The campaign is being supported by organisations including the Royal Highland Agricultural Society Scotland (RHASS), Scottish Government, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers Scotland (IAAS), National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS), Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Scottish SPCA, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership, Scottish Agriculture Organisation Society (SAOS) Women in Agriculture Scotland, National Sheep Association (Scotland), Scottish Land & Estates, AHDB Scotland, Scottish Association of Mental Health, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, Scottish Crofting Federation, Scotland Food & Drink, Lantra, SRUC, Scottish Beef Association; and Scottish Pig Producers.
Providing emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families across the agricultural sector including farming, crofting and growing.
The Rural Centre
West Mains of Ingliston
The helpline is available every day of the year from 7am to 11pm.