September means a lot of things: schools are in session, football season is getting underway, fairs are wrapping up, and harvest is just around the corner. Since 2008, September has also been a time to reflect on mental health and spend time building awareness of suicide prevention. This is the first in a four-part series on the topic of suicide prevention. In today’s post, we’ll look at the statistics that surround suicide in rural areas and the agriculture community.
According to the CDC, the rate of suicide has increased 46% in rural areas as compared to 27.3% in urban or suburban areas. Imagine a room of 100 people (think of a crowded local restaurant on a Friday night, or a small church on Sunday morning), then imagine adding 46 more people to that room. That visual represents the increase in the rate of suicide in our rural and ag communities. This can be a shocking fact to some people, because there’s a lot of stigma that keeps us from talking about this subject and sharing facts.
There are a lot of reasons this number is going up. Part of it may be that reporting guidelines have changed, and we’re simply seeing a clearer picture of what is happening in our communities. At the same time, it’s more likely that stressors such as economic uncertainty, cultural pressures, and lack of preventative care have contributed to these increased rates.
Suicide is an uncomfortable topic, but having a true picture of the magnitude of the problem is the first step in addressing the issue and helping friends, family, and neighbors who may be considering suicide. Throughout the rest of the month, we’ll look at ways we can build our awareness and share resources with others if needed.
If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, call 911 immediately. You can also reach the Suicide and Crisis Prevention lifeline by dialing or texting 988, and a trained professional will help you through the crisis and connect you with resources and other support.