Farmers battle suicide, mental health problems

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STOCKBRIDGE, Mich. (WLNS) – Studies show that suicide is more common among farmers than any other job group and twice the rate of military veterans.

A program at Michigan State University is working to address this problem.

“We are at a historically slow planting pace, both nationally and in Michigan,” said Stockbridge farmer Tim Boring.

Boring has lived on a farm in Stockbridge his entire life. He says each year it gets harder and harder to do his job.

“The farm economy has been in poor condition for number of years now and really with the weather we’ve had this Spring, it’s compounded a lot of those issues,” said Boring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that many crops are well behind where they should be at this time of year because of the rain.

This stress is causing some to commit suicide.

“Sometimes it has to do with planting and harvesting, sometimes it has to do with commodity prices,” said Jeff Dwyer, the director of Michigan State University Extension.

The program helps farmers manage mental health by giving them resources and teaching them how to recognize red flags.

“Farming is a difficult occupation, farming is a risky occupation, farming is incredibly important to all of us in the world, and so we need to pay special attention to the needs of farmers and those who work in agriculture,” said Dwyer.

Boring has a message for others like him who might be struggling to stay afloat.

“Just talk to somebody, talk to everybody, talk to anybody, reach out to people if you wouldn’t, even if it’s not in your nature, but those pieces I think are really important,” said Boring.

If you or someone you know is a farmer battling stress, click here.

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