Farmers have among highest rate of suicide - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Farmers have among highest rate of suicide

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WSIL -- Farming commonly ranks among the most dangerous occupations, but it also ranks as the highest occupations for suicide according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.

The study suggested that the suicide rate for agricultural workers in the 17 states it looked at was nearly five times higher compared with the general population.
"Personally, I know two or three over the course of several years that have taken their own lives," said Marc Lamczyk, a Franklin County farmer and ag program director at the University of Illinois-Extension. 

Marc Lamczyk has seen the toll farming takes. The CDC study says the suicide rate for those in farming and related jobs is 85.5 per 100,000 people. That's more than double that of military veterans at 35.3 per 100,000. 

"It is the intense desire to be successful economically that makes farming so perilous," explained Dr. Mike Rosmann, an Iowa farmer and psychologist.  

Dr. Rosmann has spent the last 40 years trying to understand why farmers take their lives at such a high rate. His research has shown the farmer's need to successfully produce life essentials like grain, food, and other goods. If they are unsuccessful, often due to circumstances out of their control like prices and weather, they feel the land will not continue in the family.  

Despite that, many in the agriculture industry are still unware of the issue surrounding farmers and suicide.  Those farmers have few places to turn.

"We lack essentialy services in rural area," said Rosmann. "We lack efficient providers of healthcare who understand agriculture and the unqiue challenges agriculture offers." 

Lamczyk echoes that. He's spent the last year searching for a place farmers can turn in southern Illinois without much luck.

"We've been working on trying to find somebody that would provide counseling," said Lamczyk. "Or at least somebody that would at say "Joe's not acting right. "Who do I call?""

Only fives states offer farm crisis hotlines. Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee are not on that list. 

Dr. Rosmann says times are changing as more farmers are showing a willingness to open up and discuss their problems, much more than in the past. 

In Illinois, Rosmann recommends contacting the Illinois Psychological Association for help.

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