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Farmers had a 3.5 times higher risk of committing suicide, according to the National Rural Health Association



Bedford County, Virginia – While you might imagine that being on a farm is a tranquil getaway, many farmers find that their work is stressful as they strive to safeguard their harvest.

According to statistics, the workplace has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.

W.P. Johnson has only known farming. He is the fourth generation to farm a lot of the other foods we eat, including wheat and soybeans.

“We’ve been here since 1910,” farmer W.P. Johnson said. “We’ve been going ever since.”

According to Johnson, farming is by no means an easy job.

“I can’t explain it, but I know that the pressures of what we do try to make sure that the family meets their goals and take care of that stuff but also meet the demand and the goals of the farm, as well as the predecessors before us trying to keep the industry going, work on you a lot,” Johnson said.

Uncontrollably bad weather that results in financial loss and isolation from the outside world are only two examples of the stresses that can have a terrible impact on farmers. It cost Johnson a friend.

“They milked for a living, tried to make it, sold out of the dairy business and realized that they couldn’t function because that’s what their life was about and tragically lost his life,” Johnson said.

The National Rural Health Association reports that the suicide rate among farmers is 3.5 times higher than that of the general population.

Those who are having difficulties can access a resource. AgriSafe established a helpline for farmers only a few years ago.

“The people working in Ag deserve to talk to someone who understands those stressors,” AgriSafe Health Communications Officer Laura Siegel said.

If you or someone you know is having trouble, text or phone 833-897-2474, at the AgriStress Helpline, which is open 24/7.

“I hope that as future generations come into and things change that the openness piece of it, just being able to talk about it helps out,” Johnson said.


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