Farmers have taken over social media by posing with their tractors to raise awareness of mental health and suicide within the industry.
Raising money for suicide prevention charity, Papyrus, the #TractorSelfie4Rob campaign was set up in memory of Rob Chapman, a farmer from Thurning, Northamptonshire, who tragically took his own life last summer.
Inspired by the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ which hit social media last year, the campaign was kick-started by a family friend of Mr Chapman, Alex Paske, at the end of last month.
Almost three weeks into the fundraising, the selfies have generated almost £2,900 with donations coming from all over the UK and overseas.
Ms Paske said: “The selfies have now hit Australia which is a fantastic achievement and we hope the campaign will continue to gain momentum.”
Mr Chapman, a former Harper Adams student, was 29 when he committed suicide last year. One year on, his family and friends wanted to keep his memory alive and raise awareness of the ‘taboo’ subject in a way Rob would have loved.
“We want to raise awareness of mental illness within the farming community while keeping Rob’s favourite thing at the forefront of it all; tractors,” Ms Paske explained.
“Farming can be an isolated job especially during the summer, when farmers can be sat alone in tractors for hours on end, allowing their thoughts to run away with them."
The campaign was launched in the lead up to a fun run on December 20, 2015, in Rob’s home village of Thurning.
Throughout the 3km and 5km fun run, there will be tractor landmarks and a tractor photo booth, with the £5 entry fee going to Papyrus.
According to statistics from Papyrus, suicide is a leading cause of death in young people under the age of 35.
In the UK, about 1,600 young people a year take their own life, with three quarters of those being men.
Ms Paske said: “We need to stop the stigma connected to mental health and ensure farmers are aware they are not alone and that there are charities out there to help them and offer support.”
Joanne Jones, from the Farming Community Network (FCN) in Devon, said the notion that asking for help was a sign of weakness needed to change.
She added: “We want everyone to feel that asking for help is okay and change the taboo of not talking about mental health.”
To take part in the campaign, take a selfie with a tractor in the background and make a donation to Papyrus by texting RFTG64 with the amount (for example RFTG64 £5) to 70070.
Upload your picture to social media with the hashtag #TractorSelfie4Rob, and nominate your friends to do the same.
To donate through JustGiving, click here.