Farming suicide rates on the rise

A recent study has revealed that farmers are committing suicide twice as fast as veterans.

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 6:33 PM

TIPPECANOE Co., Ind. (WLFI) -- A recent study says farmers are killing themselves at twice the rate of veterans.

Those numbers came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the increasing cost of living, farmers often find it harder and harder to make ends meet.

The USDA found that between 2011 and 2014, the average net national income from agriculture was $105 billion.

Since 2016, the average dropped to roughly $62 billion, a decrease of roughly 45 percent.

In order to see the last time averages were so low, you have to go back over ten years.

"The current incomes we've seen for the last three years; 2016, 2017, and 2018 have been about like farm incomes from early in this century. Back 2000 to 2005," said Purdue University professor of agriculutral economics, Chris Hurt.

The ever changing weather is one factor that makes agriculture a difficult industry.

"It seems like mother nature is always trying to get to the crop or get to the livestock," said Hurt.

Many farms have been family owned for many generations, and Hurt thought this may add pressure to families that are at risk of losing their farms. "I think this puts additional stress on many families to try and maintain that legacy."

Hurt's simple analogy to sum up the entire struggle? "Think about trying to live today on the income you had 15 years ago."

Associate psychology professor, Doug Samuel, said farmers exhibit the same symptoms of suicidal thoughts as the general population.

"Some of the softer signs would be things like feelings of hopelessness, feelings like things aren't going to get better, and feeling like there's a real burden on other people," said Samuel.

When it comes to discussing a difficult topic such as suicide, Samuel advised, "When you're looking at someone who you have a concern about, to express that concern don't be afraid to ask, don't be afraid to listen," said Samuel.

A bill passed Congress earlier this year creating a pilot program allowing for free behavioral health support and suicide prevention for employees in the agriculture industry.

While Indiana does not have such a bill in place yet, several other states have adopted similar bills in a new push for the well-being of those in the agriculture industry.

If you know anyone who may need help, you are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Lafayette Crisis Center at 765-742-0244.

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