The High Suicide Rate of Farmers in the US

2 months ago
76 in psychology

I knew there were farmer suicides in India over GMO screwbaggery. So many farmers got ruined of their livelihood and saw no option but to end their lives than face the debt or legal fees, on top of their lost farming incomes. But I didn't know that the United States has had, and still has, a high suicide rate for their farmers.

The first farm crisis of the 20th century took place in the 1920s and 1930s between the two world wars and was a part of the Great Depression hardships. Prices after the first world war rose sometimes over 100%, making crops more expensive to produce in 1920 than any previous year. In the 1980s there was another farm crisis, when record farm production led to a fall in price, and exports fell due to a grain embargo against the Soviet Union. That also increased with a doubling of land and equipment debt between 1978 and 1984, along with a big fall and land prices leading to record foreclosures. And the Farm Credit System had its first losses since the Great Depression, meaning supplemental support to farmers was lacking.


Source

In the 1980s, more than 1000 farmers committed suicide because of financial issues where they ended up losing their farms to foreclosure. A recent study examined the years between 1992 up until 2010, which came out to 230 farmer suicides. The annual suicide rate varied between 0.36 to 0.96 per 100,000 farmers. Considering the average suicide weight of all other occupations being 0.19 per 100,000 during that same time period, the farmer suicide rate is extremely high.

Economic factors may have improved since the 1980s, but their occupational factors have much in common, such as poor access to quality health care, isolation and continued financial stress commingle in their daily lives to place a lot of stress on them with a high risk of suicide. Even if there is quality health care, it might cost too much and be located too far for them to have the time to deal with their health issues.

Farmers can also be isolated from other people creating a smaller social network and more loneliness. There is also a farm culture which pressures them to live up to a rugged strong psychological model where they should just suck it up and go about their work, regardless of any physical pain or psychological issues. The use of chemicals such as insecticides has been known to cause depression. And when a farm has difficulties, it can be taken very personally as a sign of failure because farmers highly associate their jobs with their own identity compared to people in other jobs.

"They can't take care of their family; they feel like they have fewer and fewer options and can't dig themselves out. Eventually, suicide becomes an option," said Corinne Peek-Asa from the study.

Across the United States, the West has the highest level of suicide with 43% of the total suicides between 1992 and 2010. The Midwest accounted for 37%, the South for 13% and the Northeastern United States with 6% of the total.

Resolving these issues might be difficult because it involves much development in these rural areas to facilitate the increase in social networking between people when they are so far apart. Improving the economies would help to improve the amount of people that are there and thereby increase the potential to develop social networks. As an area develops, this increases the services provided to meet the needs of people in that area, such that improved health care and mental health services can come about as well.

I come from a small town, with farms all around as well. There are health services and many thousands of people in the area, but I imagine when the town was hardly even a town and there was barely anyone there, that the farmers and other people starting up a new community and place to live had a lot of hardships to overcome as well. I just imagine people moving out to some nowhere land to start something new. Why did they choose this place and not another?

I also think of how such a smaller town could eventually develop into a bigger economy. For example, new businesses would need to get started up that are more technologically oriented, such as introducing the programming industry or the IT support industry into such a town to make it start to grow again. Then people can live in rural areas while working a modern city-type of job and not have to commute.

These are just ideas for how to a make smaller town keep growing. I see them stagnating because they aren't moving forward in modern economic opportunities for their local populations. Have you seen rural areas get infused with technological jobs that boost that town and make it grow more, infusing it with more opportunities for people to stay or come?


References:

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60
  ·  2 months ago

:( my heart goes out for farmers in the US. I am very sensitive by this issue as Thailand is also in situations where farmers were treated unfairly through political mismanagement. A couple of years ago we had many farmer took their own lives as they were left with nothing and got cheated by the people they thought was protecting them (The Gorvernment). In Thailand we call farmers "The backbone of our Country" .... yet, there are too much space between the rich and poor. Sadly farmers are poor here and are not treated well.We used to be #1 at Rice exporters to the globe. A lot has changed since and I think that farmers aren't treated fairly here. I pray things will changed for the better soon...

Thank you for your post. 🙏🏻 🌿

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76
  ·  2 months ago

That's great that the people recognize the role of farmers in sustaining their lives. They are indeed The backbone of our Country. Praying doesn't help, but acting, organizing, group and unite for whats right is what creates change for the better :) Thanks for the feedback.

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60
  ·  2 months ago

If there was such to participate I would definitely join!!. It's just the our little country here. Everyone's voice is not heard the same. And freedom of speech is restricted to what the powerful people are comfortable with.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Hehe, on Steemit the rich can take your rewards if they don't like you or what you say, so you might find some familiarity here at times lol

37
  ·  2 months ago

Although my family's heritage is farming, I grew up in corporate world with hardworking parents who became a CPA and teacher. It hasn't been until the last few years where my fiance' has reintroduced me to the gardening/farming world that I have come to hold these truths so close.
There's an incredible sense of pride in being able to use the land and its resources to provide for families, including your own. It is unfortunately a dwindling skill set that is imparitive to the well being of us ALL. We have lost the value of farming.
I can completely understand the suicide epidemic and appreciate you bringing it to light! Praying for our farmers and hoping for solutions.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Indeed, I used to garden when I lived in the country. Good tasting veggies, yum :D Thanks for the feedback.

31
  ·  2 months ago

Growing up in southern Wisconsin , ive been around farming my whole life, and have worked at more than a few. Farming and farmers are being abused by seed producers, salesmen, and the government is nothing new. However one of the newest downfalls has been loss of family values and family integrity. The modern cut throat society that our youth has adapted to goes against everything that keeps farms running. Kids are inheriting farms and trying to run them like an online store. Farms run on strong relationships with freinds and local community. You cant just get a computerized operation, fire everyone, and expect your community to support your buisness. When people have put in 100 years of hard work and built trust in the people around them, the last thing they want is some kid noone knows with a severe attitude problem taking over and ruining families livelihoods. Its not going to get any easier until people quit trying to squeeze every drop of cash out things and then sell off the rest and move.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Indeed, I greed and desire for money above other considerations will corrupt those other considerations. Thanks for the feedback.

28
  ·  2 months ago

Well written, informative article. Didn't know the rate was so high, but can imagine how it might be, as they probably see the work of their hands as who they are. So many of us think about having little, or even big, farms (in our heads), while not having any real idea the pressures of farming. I'll add, as someone who appreciates organic food, enough of us need to rebel over this GMO and overuse of pesticides problem. They are both danger to our health and the health of our children and grandchildren.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah, I don't trust GMO under our current greed and money mindset that these corps run from. Roundup is bad, and many other chemicals, yet we continue to poison our land, air and water... Thanks for the feedback.

42
  ·  2 months ago

A sad and little known fact about these deaths, farmers really were and still are important people in society, they have driven our lives and we have not really shown an interest in them. So sad that they are pushed to end their lives whilst we carry on regardless.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yes it is. They have the real power to sustain us. They feed everyone. I mentioned that in another comment and in previous posts about the importance of food. Thanks for the feedback.

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59
  ·  2 months ago

its sad to see how society reward them to feed us vs. ie football players

66
  ·  2 months ago

I knew this was an issue but I had no idea of the magnitude. So sad.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah, me either, indeed it is.

55
  ·  2 months ago

What a great read, yet such a loss to society. Just when it seems like everyone is jumping on the band wagon of self sufficiency and home or backyard gardening, who is left to teach the ways of the old that were probably handed down to these farmers from generation to generation. It is truly sad. Thanks for sharing

54
  ·  2 months ago

Agriculture is not a profitable business now weather also plays important role. Government has to take steps to save farmers.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

It would be better if we have a proper appreciation of food and those who produce it, or had food growing everywhere, rather than useless lawns and "pretty" looking ornamental setups. We can live a new way of life, but that would require a lot of people changing how they think and what drives them (letting go of the desire for money is one of them).

50
  ·  2 months ago

The elite or gloalist attitude: Good, let them take care of themselves so we dont have to. Much like I figure they view the current suicide rates with the military. Great post!

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Reducing population anyway possible... heh. Thanks for the feedback.

41
  ·  2 months ago

Our farm system is soooooo screwed up. Mono-crops are killing the soil, and our addiction to corn in this country is limiting what farmers want/can grow.

This is why we should all try and buy our fruits and veggies as local as possible. If you live in Minnesota, perhaps you shouldn't be buying oranges . . .

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah mono crops just sap the nutrients up and don't put much of anything back. I am all for urban food forests a la permaculture guild style, growing all over the place, on every sidewalk, everywhere! Imagine a world where you can just go outside and most of the food grows itself? I am still for importing. Otherwise, the real issue is maybe we shouldn't be living in cold climates to necessitate the import of nutritious food in the winter... not too bright for us to live in cold areas.

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59
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah but storing things works wonders in cold, dry places, so it's a trade off that entices that.

49
  ·  2 months ago

Often farms are handed down through generations and the younger generation feel it's their responsibility to take on and run the farm, rather than what they would have chosen as a career/ lifestyle if it were a free choice.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

True. That even applies in other jobs, where it's family run, or even careers where the son is expected to do as the father did, but I think that was stronger in the past. For farming it's definitely stronger than other jobs or in-the-family businesses. Thanks for the feedback.

46
  ·  2 months ago

My thoughts go out to their families, I just couldn't imagine how gutting that must feel to lose everything and then some. Thanks for the insight, its very tragic that the farming industry effect on human life.

43
  ·  2 months ago

I grew up in tobacco country and remember when my Grandad had his little crop (he had a job in town). During the plant and harvest, the town was abuzz with lawyers, farmers, trucks, and the like. It was fun. Then the government got heavily involved in tobacco. Regulations and permitting became a nightmare, and many of the old boys in the county stopped growing.

My heart yearns for the farmer to come back in our country.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Government steps in many times to control things that are being done freely. Local or international governments like to keep a tight noose on things. Thanks for your feedback.

44
  ·  2 months ago

The Corporations are Taking Over the family Farms too! and Monsanto and others are a BIG Problem! I grew up in Kansas, many Friends who had Farms, it's a rough life..Not for the Meek hearted.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah, big ag takes over and the family operation has a hard time competing. Thanks for the feedback.

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44
  ·  2 months ago

That, Or the Family is Forced to run the Farm for the Big Corporation, basically paid Slavery..smh.

50
  ·  2 months ago

Our farm system is screwed up. Sadly to say there is no justice at the moment. This is the consequence of the capitalism. Rich people get richer and the poor people get poorer and have to work all day to earn some money.

Something needs to change.
We have to buy the fruits, veggies, milk etc from local farmers and if the people buy their stuff from local shops, things will maybe get better again. but that's just my two cents...

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah, and they do real work for life, things people need. It's important. Meanwhile, you have money magic games int he stock market, where people make money with money, not actually producing anything real or valuable in itself for use in reality. Buying local is a great way to go. Thanks for the feedback.

46
  ·  2 months ago

Suicide is such a sensitive topic. Whether it's about bullied teenagers or ruined financial professionals, it is such a sad reality. I didn't know there are farmers committing suicide. Where I come from, farmers don't commit suicide, they're simply dying of hunger from extreme poverty. Hopefully governments would have a heart and find ways to help farmers instead of giving way to lobbyists of big industries.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah the tax payer money can definitely go to better places! They are the food-line for our survival, and yet so many other economic sectors get more favorable supplemental help from tax money. They deserve more than just being thought of as poor workers meant to feed the "elite" cities lol.

55
  ·  2 months ago

In India as you mentioned it has been moot point between political parties from decades but no government has taken any stringent action to stop farmer's suicide...I think this where blockchain technology in supply chain can change things...it will remove the middleman from the loop who are the main culprits behind money not reaching to the farmers. I hope this issue gets resolved soon.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Good points. Yeah, technology can provide better communication for these farmers to unite an d form unions to protect themselves. Blockchain could help indeed. Thanks for the feedback.

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55
  ·  2 months ago

yeah point taken...welcome

52
  ·  2 months ago

one thing I've also noticed from some farming friends (who are psychologically well otherwise) is that there is no "off"time.

We leave our desk jobs, and go home, even if we have our laptops with us, and can be reached through our cellphones.

Even many people who are selfemployed, like shopkeepers etc, have closing hours, and a day or two days of rest in a week, but in farming (I'm talking lifestock here, not crops) goes on perpetually. There's no holiday, and the cows need to be milked at 6AM, regardless of the fact it's January 1st, Cows will calve at 2AM necessitating you to get out of bed,...

It's a continuous treadmill which lends itself to create burnouts.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

They should leave the animals alone. We can feed more people, and be healthier, with plants. Then they would have more free time. The whole animal-ag is supplemented with tax payer money too in order to sustain an unsustainable model.

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50
  ·  2 months ago

Agreed. "Control the food supply, control the population." GMO's, chemtrails, pollutants,and chemicals where does it end. Grow your own............

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yup, for those who can, that's a good way to reduce costs and be healthier.

50
  ·  2 months ago

Is there something that is being done to support these fragile people? Are these problems recognized by the authorities or by a large group of people? It's horrible and something needs to be done. A collective awakening is more than necessary ... how many deaths before a collective awakening ? Blessings from Belgium.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

I think people need to recognize the role of farmers in supporting their own lives. Without food, we would die. Farmers actually have the most power when you think of it. They hold the power to feed us! They do so much, yet get such little respect from the economic perspective. They work hard, and get little monetary reward.

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50
  ·  2 months ago

You are right, the farmers should be more supported. It is the same here in Belgium, days after days, the farmers have less and less respect and recongnition. It's a shame. Big companies put the knife under their throat and the common people don't realize that. They only think about the power the farmers have, not the suffering and hard work. That perception need to change.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

With most people thinking of the bottom line -- i.e. money -- they also make their concerns based on that and forget how civilization started: farming crops. Everything else in our "advancement" gets more weight of importance applied it seems, while the oldest and most basic in importance gets treated like it doesn't matter with hardly any notice in modern life.

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50
  ·  2 months ago

Absolutely. That imaginary God (money) is awful and destroys lot of things. A wake-up is inevitable. I like to think that more and more people are waking up. Let's keep hope for a better future - despite some mindsets and difficulties.

54
  ·  2 months ago

Walmart. Also in the 90's, walmart began the boarding up main streets in literally every rural small town in the farmers' country. It was so sad. (My family is from a small town in Kansas, a state that got hit fast and hard by walmart.) thanks @ kernl, didn't know this, not surprised.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Haha, yeah, it happened in my town, in the 90's Walmart came to town! Then local businesses had a harder time to compete with their lower prices. More and more franchise businesses pop up.

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54
  ·  2 months ago

Right! You saw it happen too - heartbreaking. Along with big ag bringing down the farmer's own farm, then he goes into town but no longer has his main street community of businesses (a social visit as well), and is eventually, literally, forced to go to walmart. Forced into isolation, and lost independence, it's simple to understand the farmers' depression. (Of course the Clintons had much to do with spreading that persisting evil.)

70
  ·  2 months ago

@krnel, I grew up in farming capital and I had no idea. Farmers here in California always seem so happy and are usually the life of the party.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah it's not all, but compared to other jobs it's a high rate. It's a grounded living, actually making things that are needed, unlike stock market games of simply using money to make money (usury) of trading things... lol

57
  ·  2 months ago

Very sad indeed. I have relatives that are ranchers/farmers in Texas. I know they have been through hard times in the past. Thanks for posting about this subject matter. I am subscribed.

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah it's a tough job and many get highly invested in it financially and personally.

46
  ·  2 months ago

Wow, never really heard how bad it was. I knew Monsanto ruined a lot of people and farms but just didn't know how bad. So sad!

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah Monsanto and GMO legal crap is ridiculous, but I only mentioned the India thing as a segway for farmer suicide, I don't think it's correlated in the US.

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46
  ·  2 months ago

I do know that a lot of farmers get caught up in using Monsanto products and Roundup ready seeds to get better yields, but over the years the yields go down more and more. They try to go back to traditional farming but the ground has been destroyed by the Monsanto products and they get very little if any yields. I also know that Monsanto is constantly suing farmers in adjacent farms for their product blowing over and growing on a non GMO farm and winning the lawsuit. Don't see how we are letting this happen. They are destroying us, our crops and our health while patenting everything and trying to play GOD! Man cannot improve on what GOD has created but we will soon see the full effects of what we have done. Such a sad end. I like your content on here. Following, upvoting and resteeming!

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah they are just wicked, don;t care for what's right, and neither do the law makers... sad. Ignorance and greed is letting things fall apart, cause money is #1. So many are focused on money and not actually providing anything useful to get it, and some even do harm and still make money... this applies to many areas of humanity, from the real world to online communities as well...

I wrote his last year: Monsanto and Bayer - EvilCorps Unite

Thanks for the feedback again, and the support ;)

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28
  ·  2 months ago

I think we need to write letters to our Congressmen/and women and stop what Monsanto is doing to our food and to our land. If they got enough mail, my guess is they'd start looking into it, so they could keep their jobs in DC.

53
  ·  2 months ago

A terribly terrible truth (

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76
  ·  2 months ago

Indeed it is. Farmers are the lifeline to a society. Without food, we die.

60
  ·  2 months ago

WOW

65
  ·  2 months ago

Keep working, stop paying.

54
  ·  2 months ago

your post is a true eye opener. USA has been a model to many countries as regards its mechanised farming. where i come from we are still faring based on Fredrick Rigs agarian model...however, due to economic hardship, our own suicide rate is more in area of debt and hunger. in Lagos, people are forming a habit of jumping from the bridge no thanks to hardship. my question is, no matter the cause, is suicide the best option? am new here and loving your style of posts...keep it up as you have a new follower who just got into steem today!

46
  ·  2 months ago

Man, can you donate me 0.5 steem dollar?
As I wanted to invest in steem currency because I know it will definitely will rise in value.However, my dad was not allowing me to do that. Can you let to prove to my father that i am right? Thank you.

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63
  ·  2 months ago

Hello @wallsnow

I will flag you if you do not stop this spam.
You will have to say I am sorry or ask why not if you do not want to be downvoted.

46
  ·  2 months ago

Man, can you donate me 0.5 steem dollar?
As I wanted to invest in steem currency because I know it will definitely will rise in value.However, my dad was not allowing me to do that. Can you let to prove to my father that i am right? Thank you.

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63
  ·  2 months ago

Hello @wallsnow

I will flag you if you do not stop this spam.
You will have to say I am sorry or ask why not if you do not want to be downvoted.

70
  ·  2 months ago

It is a tragedy...@krnel

52
  ·  2 months ago

Oh God why they do that...