ACROSS THE EDI­TOR’S DESK®

OUR TWOPART SE­RIES ON MEN­TAL HEALTH BE­GINS THIS IS­SUE.

Successful Farming - - CONTENTS - Dave Kurns Ed­i­to­rial Con­tent Di­rec­tor [email protected]­ith.com Twit­ter: @dav­ekurns

Read­ing about farmer sui­cides is dif­fi­cult. Even talk­ing about it one-on-one is awk­ward. Don’t let that stop you. Ev­ery farmer mat­ters, and any farmer who may be strug­gling men­tally to cope with hard­ships in life or on the farm de­serves your out­stretched hand.

Times to­day are hard – the sta­tis­tics are right in front of you. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol re­ports that 90 out of ev­ery 100,000 work­ers in the farm­ing, fish­ing, and forestry in­dus­tries are dy­ing by sui­cide at six times the na­tional av­er­age.

The alarm has been sounded.

Ac­cord­ing to the bank­ing in­dus­try, the cur­rent farm down­turn is not nearly as crit­i­cal fi­nan­cially as in the 1980s. That’s not true for men­tal health ex­perts. They re­port that sui­cides in these in­dus­tries are 50% higher than dur­ing the farm cri­sis of the 1980s.

How do you know there’s trou­ble? Take time to stop, lis­ten, and love. Ac­cord­ing to Jami Del­li­field with Ohio State Univer­sity Ex­ten­sion, there are keys to watch (read Lisa Foust Prater’s full story,

“Go Ahead, Reach Out,” on page 60):

• Watch for changes in the per­son’s abil­ity to live, laugh, and love. • Watch to see if the per­son shows anger, lethargy, sad­ness, or body aches.

• Watch to see if the per­son is find­ing ex­cuses not to do things that used to be a very in­te­gral part of life and is shut­ting off from friends.

Be­cause farm­ers’ ca­reers and lives are so in­ter­twined, it’s hard for them not to be over­whelmed by fail­ures. There are ways you can help, though. Ask them if they need help and, if so, get them help. Talk to them. Most of all, Del­li­field says, show them love and com­pas­sion. Act the same way you would in any phys­i­cal emer­gency.

“If some­one was hav­ing a heart at­tack, you would take the per­son to the hos­pi­tal and get help,” she says. Men­tal health alerts or sui­ci­dal thoughts de­serve the same ur­gent care.

Re­al­ize, how­ever, that men­tal ill­ness does not have to last for­ever. “This can be short term,” Del­li­field says. “There are sea­sons in farm­ers’ lives that are more stress­ful and more in­tense than oth­ers. With proper treat­ment, things can get bet­ter.”

Here’s to things get­ting bet­ter.

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