SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This has been a tough year for farmers and ranchers. For many families that stress is taking a toll. One KELOLAND woman knows that all too well.
Amber Dykshorn describes her husband as loving, compassionate, and supportive of their kids, but she started to notice he was down and depressed. As a farmer, this year was rough. Rough enough, that Chris took his own life just last week. Amber is now speaking out and hopes this story can have an impact and encourage others to get help.
Amber Dykshorn and her husband Chris would be married 15 years in September. Together, they have three kids. Amber says that’s one thing about Chris she’ll always remember, the support for their kids.
“When he started farming he wasn’t able to make all the competitions, but he was cheering from home, he went to track meets and was there for her, took the kids deer hunting, just an all-around good guy,” wife Amber Dykshorn said.
Chris started farming about 5 years ago near Platte. This year was different.
“With the wet year and not being able to get the crops in and the financial burden of it, not having corn to feed the livestock, just a lot of components playing into that,” Dykshorn said.
Amber says Chris went to Avera Behavioral Health at the beginning of June.
“When he came home that Tuesday, he was very nervous about being home, and someone myself who struggles with depression and I’ve been hospitalized before, I felt it was a little bit more anxiety about coming home then what he should have,” Dykshorn said.
A few days later, the unthinkable happened. Chris left to take care of cattle, but was gone longer than usual.
“I told my son that was awake that I would be back in a little bit, and I got in my vehicle and as I got in the vehicle I had called our pastor because Chris was going to meet with him that afternoon and I drove over there and there he was, and I was able to be with him when he took his last two breaths,” Dykshorn said.
Amber hopes sharing her family’s story will make a difference for someone else.
“My hope by sharing what our family went through is that I can prevent another farmers wife, another farming family to go through such a horrific loss, it’s just so hard and we just need to rally together to support our farmers, family is a difficult occupation, there’s just so many highs and lows,” Dykshorn said.
An important message, that can hopefully, offer help.
“That is my hope, is that we can be more aware and be more supportive of our farmers, especially during these trying years.”
For anyone who may need someone to talk to, Avera has a Stress Hotline available to farmers and ranchers and their families 24/7. It’s free and confidential. That number is 1-800-691-4336.