Farmer Mental Health Deserves Our Attention

Written by Philip Payne

October 16, 2020

Unfortunately, it should be no surprise to anyone that America is in the midst of a mental health crisis, which has only become exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic. One group particularly affected by this crisis are America’s farmers and ranchers. They face many barriers to receiving care such as transportation difficulties, limited providers, or stigma in their fiercely independent and private communities.

By the Numbers:

  • Farmers are among the most likely to die by suicide, compared with other occupations, according to a January study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also found that suicide rates overall had increased by 40% in less than two decades.
  • More than 450 farmers killed themselves across nine Midwestern states from 2014 to 2018, according to data collected by the USA TODAY Network and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The real total is likely to be higher because not every state provided suicide data for every year and some redacted portions of the data.
  • The deaths coincide with the near-doubling of calls to a crisis hotline operated by Farm Aid, a nonprofit agency whose mission is to help farmers keep their land. More than a thousand people dialed the number in 2018 alone, said spokeswoman Jennifer Fahy.

At Apportis, we seek to expand rural mental health access for farmers and ranchers in the Midwest region. By surrounding our farmers with a community of care, more people will be able to spot the red flags of mental health issues in our aging farmer population. By getting our farmers the help they need, we can lessen the suicide rate, as well as provide the resources to most effectively manage the stress than comes with the agricultural lifestyle.

If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues, please contact:
Farm Aid Hotline, 800-FARM-AID (327-6243) Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7


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