May 2016 - Sandpit

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IT’S the side of farming that often goes unnoticed; the area we are still “too embarrassed to talk about”.

When Katrina was just 15-years-old, and her sister was 11, their “hardworking, outgoing and socially happy” dad took his own life on their farm in Barham, on the banks of the Murray River.

As a father and loving husband to their mother Debbie, Sandy Warne suffered years of depression while working as a farmer on his 800-acre avocado property.

“My grandparents brought the farm in the 70s, and then my dad took it on when they couldn’t run it any longer,” daughter Katrina, now 34, told news.com.au

“My dad loved the farm so much, and he wanted to be a farmer his whole life. While many farmers often don’t get off their property, dad was a huge community man, really involved in golf, tennis and squash. He was outgoing, happy and very social.”

While Sandy’s depression was “very well hidden from his friends and the local community”, his family was well aware of his spiralling condition — especially in the last six months of his life.

“Dad was just 42 years old when he died, and he kept what he was feeling very well hidden from those who weren’t family,” Katrina said.

“He was actually booked to go into hospital the day after he died, but I think the thought of doing that was just too hard for him.

“In the months before dad died, he lost a lot of weight. He was very stressed, because he and mum were considering selling the farm. It was meant to be sold a few days after he died because of financial reasons.

“Because of this reason, dad felt he was a failure. But according to mum, they were never in a position where they had to sell, I think dad just felt like the farm wasn’t going well enough, so he had to get rid of it.”

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