An article by Irina Ivanova titled “Farmers are Killing Themselves In Staggering Numbers” caught my attention the other day when it appeared in my Facebook newsfeed, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. I was aware that mental illness and suicide is prevalent in the farming community, but this article allowed me to recognize just how severe this devastating issue is becoming.
The article focuses on farmers in the United States, however, suicide rates among farmers and within farming communities are increasing in a global context. Ivanova discusses how incredible stress, an inability to control weather and the destruction it can cause to crops, and further a decrease in profit from crops are main contributors towards an escalation of suicide amongst farmers in America, the suicide rate “in the field of farming, fishing and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people—more than five times that of the population as a whole.”
These numbers are concerning, heartbreaking and, likely for some, shocking. I truly believe individuals fail to comprehend the tremendous stress farmers are under in their everyday lives, and the numbers display hard evidence of just how problematic these stresses have become for the men and women who work tirelessly to provide us and our families with food.
Donald Trump’s recent decision to place tariffs on American crops are a modern example of a financial stress for these farmers.
Ivanova stresses the importance of acknowledging mental health issues rather than ignoring them and stigmatizing them, specifically in rural communities.
As saddening as this article was to read, its contents is crucial to recognize in order to move forward and improve the mental health of farmers across the globe. Farmers are so often neglected in a variety of contexts, from their daily efforts to the sacrifices they make to provide for others, but their mental health is something that needs to be at the forefront.
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