By: Bridget Britton, OSU Extension, Behavior Health Field Specialist
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and with that comes the opportunity to raise awareness to help prevent even one more suicide from happening. When you live where you work the stress often never leaves a person’s mind. Unfortunately, people become overwhelmed to a point where they feel there is no other option besides suicide. For that exact reason it is important to talk about suicide, and how can we support those that are going through mental health challenges in order to prevent future suicide.
How is this affecting our community?
- The agricultural community is 5 times more likely to die by suicide than any other population in the United States according to a CDC study published in 2017. Suicides are up by over 40% in the last 20 years according to this same study. Our farmers and foresters experience unique stressors that the average person can not even begin to understand. Whether it is related to health insurance, market prices, weather, or legal issues this all compounds into the daily lives of our ag community.
- Farmers have easier access to lethal means in the way of guns and medication that has not been prescribed to them, allowing for suicide to be more obtainable.
- We all struggle to talk about suicide and mental health. Though the conversations are happening they are still quiet. The stigma or fear of admitting a person needs support is still very real. Bringing this conversation out to the light allows for more open discussion.
What can be done to help support?
- Many local communities come together for rallies, walks, or speaking events this month. Check with your local mental health and recovery board to see what may be going on in your area. Seek out education on how to support others that may be walking through a mental health challenge. There are trainings a person can take to spot warning signs and symptoms of potential mental health challenges or crises. These trainings do not make you a licensed professional, but they do provide tools to support family, friends, or strangers that may be going through a difficult time. They also could prevent suicide from occurring.
All of these trainings are offered through OSU Extension. The next Mental Health First Aid is being offered virtually through Extension on October 1st. Contact Bridget Britton, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information or to register for any of these trainings.
Be sure to check out the new website that you are on. We developed this to get more information and resources on the topic of mental health and farm stress for our ag community. Be sure to click “Subscribe” to receive notices on timely information!