Announcing a pounds 20,000 grant to 'tackle the special problems of delivering mental health services in rural areas', Mr Yeo said he was meeting farmers' representatives with the aim of raising awareness of suicide risk and mental illness.
Figures show that farmers are nearly twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population and are ranked fourth, behind veterinarians, pharmacists and dentists, in the suicide rankings by profession.
In the White Paper, Health of the Nation, the Government is committed to reducing national suicide rates by 15 per cent by 2000, from 11 per 100,000 of the population to 9.4.
Mr Yeo was addressing health professionals in Croydon, south London, at one of 14 regional health conferences. He said: 'The statistics are a real cause for concern. Suicide accounts for approximately 1 per cent of all deaths annually - 5,567 in 1991. It is the second most common cause of death in 15 to 34-year-old males.'Reuse content