Farmer Suicides On the Rise

Farmer Suicides on the Rise
  • In some states, suicide rates are up to 35% higher in rural areas.
  • There are about two million farms in the US.
  • About 11% of farmers have served in the military.
  • Suicide rates for farmers are around 50% higher now than during the 1980s farm crisis.

When you think of the typical American farmer, the image of a self-reliant and stoic individual probably comes to mind. You envision someone who’s always willing to help a neighbor, a person you can depend on to help out if times get tough. Unfortunately, times are getting tough for farmers in the US, and some of them are resorting to suicide to deal with their problems.


Amy Lopez, a suicide prevention coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health, is one of the people hoping to help prevent the rising suicide rates among farmers from getting worse. When asked, she said:

“We know that farmers, and especially just in general in rural communities, they are disproportionately affected by deaths by suicide. And there’s such a pervasive level of stigma as it relates to seeking help, especially for mental health services.”

Minnesota is leading the way when it comes to farmers and mental health. The state agriculture and health departments have joined forces to train people in the agricultural community to recognize when a farmer is struggling and what they can do to help out. So far, they are training people like veterinarians, clergy, lenders and insurance agents.


According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), farmers are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than people in other professions.

Why are farmers more likely to kill themselves? Experts believe it’s a combination of things. People in rural areas are less likely to have access to good mental health care, and the farming industry has been hit hard financially over the past few years.

Jayme Krauth, a health educator in Minnesota that volunteers to help suicidal farmers, observes, “So many people just feel like there’s nothing left and there’s no one to go to, and that everybody would be better off without them.” Krauth added, “If I was in that situation, it would be helpful for me to hear someone wonder if I’m OK.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, go to for a list of resources, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free. It’s anonymous. It’s available 24/7/365.

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