There was a crisis in farm country, and it’s not in the field: It’s in the minds of many farmers, a stress crisis that has perhaps gone unchecked for a very long time. Dr. Robin Tutor Marcom is director of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute. I caught up with her as she attended a conference on rural Suicide Prevention at the USDA offices in Washington DC and she says the latest statistics tell the tale.
Farmers are about three times more likely to complete suicide than others in our population. And we know that that is because of what I call “compounded factors.” There’s so much that our farmers don’t have control over they don’t have control over whether they don’t have control over market prices. They don’t know if they are going to have a crop that’s going to be good enough to pay off their operating loans at the end of the year.
Tutor says farmers can be victims of “inseparable connectedness.”
When we leave to go to work, we leave our home we go to an office or another location. We do our day’s work and we come home, But a farmer never really leaves a farm. If they leave the farm they’re in a business meeting there with their farm credit or their with their equipment dealer. They’re with their cooperative extension agent.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. But Tutor says the AgroMedicine Institute is available to help anyone at no cost anytime.
Just like learning how to do CPR and first aid for physical needs. Everyone needs to know about the signs and symptoms of crisis and so we’re able to provide that training free of charge to an individual to a group anywhere in all 100 counties of North Carolina and other states if they ask. We have funds that allow us to help operate our farm helpline. And that number is 844-325-3276. Anyone can call that number 24 hours a day and there’s someone there to reach out to if someone needs help.
You can find out more about the services offered by the AgroMedicine Institute at NCagromedicine.org.