Wednesday, July 24, 2019

More money going to mental health for farmers, who are 5 times more likely than other Americans to commit suicide

Farmers are five times more likely to commit suicide than other Americans, and "A cold, blizzard-filled winter, wet spring, stormy summer and uncertain fall have compounded farmers’ market-instability stress in the Midwest, raising concern for their mental health," Wendy Royston reports for The Daily Yonder.

Even before the bad weather and trade war, farmers had been struggling for years with financial instability, loneliness, lack of insurance or other access to mental-health care, and the pressure to not quit what may have been a way of life for generations.

Some steps are being taken to address the issue. Avera Health created a free 24-hour Farmer Stress Hotline in February for South Dakota residents, and says it's seen an increase in calls as 2019 progresses. "The National Farmers Union also has fielded more calls regarding farmer mental health. They direct their callers to the Farm Aid crisis line . . . Both programs employ the help of counselors who identify caller needs and refer them for further help."

In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded a mental-health program for farmers that had been created in the 2008 Farm Bill but left unfunded for over a decade. The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network aims to distribute $2 million in competitive grants to develop mental-health resources for farmers. Applications for the FRSAN are due July 25, Oates reports.

Here are some farmer suicide prevention and mental-health resources:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (24 hours)
  • Crisis Text Line: 741-741 (24 hours)
  • Farm Aid farmer hotline: 1-800-327-6243 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Eastern)
  • Avera Farmer Stress Hotline (South Dakota residents): 1-800-691-4336 (24 hours)
  • National Farmers Union Farm Crisis Center
  • Suicide warning signs: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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