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Farm Workers Have Highest Rate of Suicide Among Occupations

Farm Workers Have Highest Rate of Suicide Among Occupations
Farm workers have the highest rate of suicide among occupations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Konrad Kerker/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 26 June 2018 06:16 PM

Farm workers have the highest rate of suicide among occupations, CBS News reported Tuesday, citing a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the data has many scrambling for solutions.

The farming, fishing and forestry occupation group saw 84.5 suicides per 100,000 persons, according to the CDC study, which analyzed 12,312 suicides in 17 states in 2012. Construction and extraction workers came in second with 53.3 suicides per 100,000 persons.

The study pointed to several possible factors contributing to the high rate of suicides among farm workers, including exposure to pesticides, social isolation, potential for financial losses, barriers to mental health, and access to lethal means.

Earlier this month, the CDC released a report that found that suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state.

Those spikes have been sharp in rural areas, with rural Western counties along with a swath of the country running from Oklahoma through the Appalachians standing out, The Washington Post reported in May.

Jennifer Fahy, communications director with Farm Aid, said the situation for farm workers is worse today than it was in the 1980s when a nationwide crisis drove a spike in suicides and depression, according to CBS News.

"We're hearing from farmers on our hotline that farmer stress is extremely high," Fahy said. "Every time there's more uncertainty around issues around the farm economy is another day of phones ringing off the hook."

The Illinois Farm Bureau created a Rural Health Committee, which is looking for ways to help lower suicide rates in the agricultural community, WEAU-TV reported.

'We definitely just want farmers to know that they're not alone," Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Field Support Director Jackie Jones said, according to the station. "We know times are tough, and we're here to help any way we can. So, making sure they are aware of the resources out there, whether it's contacting the national suicide prevention hotline or talking to friends and family."

Political issues surrounding trade, tariffs, and the farm bill, which expires at the end of September, add stress to those working in the farm economy, NPR reported last month.

"This farm bill means everything," Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), the Agriculture Committee Chairman said, according to NPR. "There are too many questions unanswered right now, and that's why we need to bring certainty and predictability so farmers say, well, at least I know I have that."

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Farm workers have the highest rate of suicide among occupations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the data has many scrambling for solutions.
form, workers, suicide, highest, occupations
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2018-16-26
Tuesday, 26 June 2018 06:16 PM
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