“The topic (mental health) has long been stigmatized in farming communities. We’re tough. We can handle things on our own. We don’t need to be all touchy-feely, talking about our emotions or our problems. Things need to get done. Animals need our care. Crops need to be harvested. Farmers would much rather push it all down inside and keep going.” This is a powerful quote from an article published by Farm and Dairy. In this article, the author features two stories of farm families impacted by suicide. Take a moment to read this piece written by author Rachel Wagoner.
As Suicide Prevention Month draws to a close for 2022, we want to remind you that if you are experiencing mental health challenges (anxiety, depression) or mental health emergencies (suicidal thoughts), YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are many people who are ready, willing, and able to help you find the resources you need to feel better. Mental health challenges can be overwhelming, but it is important to know that with the right help, recovery is both possible and probable!
Consider the following resources:
- 988- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Call or text this number to be connected to a trained counselor who will talk with you and help you connect with the right resources
- 741741- Crisis Text Line. Text this number to be connected to a trained counselor.
- Ohio Mental Health Resource Guide– click on your county to see a list of resources available in your area
- Ohio Careline- dial 1-800-720-9616 to be connected to a behavioral health professional who will offer emotional support to anyone experiencing a personal or family crisis
If you are interested in raising awareness of mental health and bringing Mental Health First Aid or QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) trainings to your community or organization, please reach out to Bridget at firstname.lastname@example.org
Words can pack a punch. Choosing nice words to give a compliment can brighten someone’s day, while negative words can incite anger or sadness.
The same is true when we discuss suicide. Many words that we have used to discuss suicide in the recent past are stigmatizing, meaning they can add a sense of blame or shame towards people who have attempted or died by suicide. This can make it difficult to talk about suicide, and it is important to talk about suicide! Over the last several years, there has been a push to change the language around suicide so we can discuss the topic without adding to the stigma.
Phrases to change, limit, or avoid:
- “Committed suicide”- have you noticed that we use phrases like “commit a sin” or “commit a crime?” While it might not be our intention, saying a person committed suicide can imply that they did something selfish or sinful and cast blame.
- “Successful suicide”- we often use the word success when we’re talking about something that is positive, such as successfully meeting a goal or running a successful business. There is nothing positive about suicide.
Phrases to use instead:
- “died by suicide”- this phrase does not add any shame or blame, but simply and clearly explains what happened.
- “completed suicide”- this phrase is also a way to simply and clearly state what happened.
Changing the words you use to talk about suicide might be difficult at first. You might accidentally slip up and use stigmatizing language instead of non-stigmatizing words. Simply correct yourself and practice using the new words. It might take a few tries to feel comfortable switching out the words you use, but it will go a long way in helping break down some of the stigma that surrounds suicide.
(If you or a loved one are experiencing a suicide crisis or other mental health crisis, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by simply dialing 988. You can also text HELP to 741741 to reach the Crisis Textline. If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health emergency or substance use emergency, dial 911.)
Every year, the month of September is set aside for us to raise awareness for suicide prevention and to remember those we have lost. This month can be difficult for many of us to navigate, but it is also an opportunity for us to offer HOPE to someone in need.
It is important during this time to remember the resources that are available to us. The Suicide Lifeline has a new, easy-to remember number (simply dial 988) and has expanded to offer support to individuals experiencing any type of mental health crisis. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health crises, 988 is the number to call! A trained professional will walk with you during the crisis and can connect you with additional resources in your community.
While it is great to have resources like 988 and other local hotline numbers (which you can find under the Get Help Now! tab of this page), studies overwhelmingly show that prevention and early intervention are far more impactful than crisis intervention. This means it is crucial that we become familiar with warning signs of suicide.
Here is a list of common warning signs that a person may be considering suicide. It is important to note that many of the changes in behaviors or emotions will likely happen over a period of four or more weeks.
- Avoiding friends or family
- Confused thinking or struggling to concentrate
- Expressing excessive sadness or worry
- Overuse of substances such as drugs or alcohol
- Thinking or talking about suicide
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Aggressive or passive behavior out of character to them
- Changes in appetite
You can find more information on potential signs here.
Together as a community, we can come together to support friends, family, and even strangers that may be struggling. There are classes to help educate at the very basic level to help spot warning signs and symptoms, and how to support before a crisis happens. Mental Health First Aid is a great program that OSU Extension offers for FREE right now, both in-person and virtually. Register here go.osu.edu/farmstress22mhfa
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been live for nearly a month now, and individuals and organizations across the state of Ohio are working diligently to share information about this resource with friends, family, and neighbors.
This new, easy-to-remember number can be used by anyone in the United States who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, emotional distress, thoughts of harming others, or substance use concerns. When you dial 988, you will be connected with a trained counselor who will help you reduce the stress of the crisis and find local resources to help support you in the future.
Bridget Britton, Behavioral Health Field Specialist for Ohio State University Extension, recently sat down and recorded a PSA that you can use to spread the word about 988. Watch this short video and then share on your social media pages today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fse9ryxGjz4&ab_channel=OSUSouthCenters
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has been in existence since 2005. The Lifeline has been an invaluable resource for people to use in a suicide crisis situation, and now a new initiative has made it even easier for people to connect with trained counselors in times of distress. Anyone in the United States can now call or text 988 to reach the Lifeline when they are in a state of emotional distress, having thoughts of suicide, having thoughts of harming others, or having substance use concerns.
In addition to the new, easy-to-remember number, the Lifeline has expanded the services it offers. Traditionally, the Lifeline primarily focused on supporting individuals experiencing a suicide crisis situation. It now also offers support for someone who would like to talk through the distress they are experiencing related to anxiety, depression, or substance use.
Just as when people called the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (which will continue to remain in service), a person who calls or texts 988 will be linked to a trained professional such as a counselor, therapist, or social worker for support. These counselors are trained to reduce the stress of the challenge or crisis, provide emotional support, and link the caller to services in their local area for additional assistance. Research has shown that most calls to the Lifeline can be managed or resolved over the phone.
Help us break down the stigma of receiving support by promoting 988! There is no shame in seeking out support.
Here is a list of common signs a person may need to talk with a mental health professional:
- New or unusual fatigue
- Increased irritability
- Depression lasted more than 2 weeks
- Social isolation
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Difficulty following through with tasks at work or school
Most of these signs are compounded on top of each other and last for several weeks.
The switch to the new 988 number has been a work in progress for several years, and it will take some time to spread the word within our communities. You can help spread the word today by sharing this information on your personal or professional social media pages, or by visiting https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/988/partner-toolkit to find resources that can be shared at locations throughout your community.
Keep up the Conversation!
By: Bridget Britton Behavioral Health Field Specialist
As May winds down, so does Mental Health Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean it we stop talking about mental health. Working in agriculture is often an all-consuming profession. Here are some helpful tips to work on reducing stress and maintaining positive mental health. Continue reading →
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.
Continue reading →