Poor Farm Economy & Suicides

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During the farm crisis in the 1980s, the suicide rate among farmers was very high.

Here’s what’s startling.

More farmers are taking their lives now than they were then.

Some experts say it has to do with the economy.

Bob Worth is checking out his 46th corn crop near Lake Benton, Minnesota.

He’s pleased with his corn this year and knows he’s especially lucky.

“This is probably going to be our third really good crop. People in South Dakota who are really drying out–I really feel for those people,” Worth said.

Despite the timely rain the area has received, two of Worth’s farmer friends have taken their own lives. Worth says the poor farm economy is partly to blame.

“When they found out that they weren’t going to get money to put a crop in and that the bankers were going to come out and set up an auction time for them, they just couldn’t do it,” Worth said.

Sadly, this is not all that uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a report that found farmers have one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who put a good face on when they come in and talk to you, but you can tell down deep that things are getting out of control,” SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist Heather Gessner said.

Gessner urges farmers to watch out for their neighbors, and pay attention to any warning signs. She also says that the Extension Service has resources available.

“If we can get some of that control back, that’s what we’re trying to help the producers get,” Gessner said.

Resources that Worth would like farmers to take advantage of because he hopes other farmers get help before it’s too late.

“They took what they thought was the easy way out. It’s not good for their family and their friends and everybody,” Worth said.

Here are some suicide warning signs to watch out for: changes in behavior, excessive sadness or moodiness, and avoiding friends or social activities.

You can contact the Extension Service through its website.

You can also get suicide prevention and crisis support through The Helpline Center.

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