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Farmers and Suicide Prevention

Posted by Blythe Howell | September 10, 2021

Have you ever had a bad day on the farm? The tractor wouldn’t start or the pickup truck had a flat tire? The answer is most likely yes. Things like this can be frustrating especially if you have work to do or places to be. One might get mad at first, but situations like these can be easily fixed and there is light at the end of the tunnel. What about situations like these: I needed to spray my weeds a month ago and the weather just will not cooperate and they are taking too much valuable moisture, lost my house  or property to the wildfires, we owe a lot of money to creditors, this record drought and heat wave caused my yields to be way below average, I must seed but there is not adequate moisture and none in the foreseeable future, combine caught on fire and let us not forget the stressors associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
These are all real-life circumstances. Agriculture, simply put, it is not easy. It can be dangerous at times and things like weather, unforgiving economic markets, and situations like those mentioned above can all add stress to one’s life. When issues start to compound, many producers can experience what is called “excessive stress”, feel completely over-whelmed, making it hard to move forward with everyday life situations is not un-heard of.

Because of these factors and others, agricultural workers have high rates of suicide. These losses of family members to suicide can be avoided. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time and experiencing excessive stress or perhaps even making comments like “I know how I can make this all go away…” please do not hesitate and reach out to a professional crisis support line.

The following information below comes directly from the Skagit County Extension Suicide Prevention Web Page.

Consider ways to encourage the public to be there for someone who might be struggling or in crisis. Some examples of how someone can #BeThere include:

  • Check in with a friend by phone or text message to see how they are doing.
  • Invite a friend to meet for coffee or to share a meal together.
  • Send a handwritten card to let someone know you are thinking of them.
  • Learn the risk factors and warning signs.
  • Help connect someone who is struggling to professional care.
  • Share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number (800-273-8255), which provides 24/7, free, and confidential support. For specialized care, military veterans may press ‘1.’ In addition, anyone can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

There are several signs or symptoms to look for when stress has begun to take an effect on you or someone you know:

  • Thoughts of hurting oneself
  • Care of Livestock Declines
  • Increase in Agriculture-Related Accidents
  • Appearance of Farmstead Declines
  • Children Show Signs of Stress
  • Lack of energy/motivation to do usual tasks
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Alcohol and/or substance abuse/addiction
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Relational tension 

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Talk to Someone Now. View the Agricultural Suicide Prevention Program (pdf).

Suicide Awareness Phone Number.

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