Farming Communities Tackle Rise in Suicides

Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor
Publication Date: Oct 29, 2020

Farming Communities Tackle Rise in Suicides

October 14, 2020At a drive-through ice cream social in Sauk County, Wisconsin, the Farmer Angel Network supplied goody bags that included a foam cow stress toy and information about wellness resources – and pamphlets to prevent loved ones from considering death by suicide. According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, some 450 farmers died by suicide in nine Midwestern states between 2014 and 2018.


Grassroot groups, like the Farmer Angel Network, recognize the stigma surrounding mental health in farming communities. A recent American Farm Bureau Federation study found that nearly 60% of farmers say their friends and neighbors attach a great deal of stigma to mental health issues. After Randy Roecker’s friend and fellow dairy farmer took his own life in 2018, Roecker started sharing his financial stress, feelings of depression, and suicidal ideation with members of his church. He decided with some of his neighbors to create a formalized group, which became the Farmer Angel Network.


“We tried to put a positive spin about bringing farm families together,” says Dorothy Harms, a Farmer Angel Network volunteer. “Fellowship in any of these situations is so good. Farmers get together and they start talking and they tell you about the tractor that broke down and the cow that got sick and the hay that got rained on. At the very least, you get talking to the other guys and you think, oh, my life isn’t so bad.”


Read the full article.

Browse our farm stress and mental health resources.

View our product on co-occurring disorders in rural America.