According to a study from the CDC, farmers are among the most likely to die by suicide, compared with other occupations.
Eric Karbowski, community behavioral health extension educator, says if you or someone around someone around you might be contemplating suicide, bring some self-awareness to the table.
“Letting them know it’s ok to have a little extra help or letting them know there are supports out there to help them and a lot of people care,” he said. “If you’re not listening for yourself, maybe listen for a fellow farmer if you’re recognizing some of those signs and having some concerns about them.”
There have been strides to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health and suicide. However, Karbowski says there’s still more to be done.
“Reach out—don’t be afraid to ask them,” he said. “There’s a lot of stigma around that. The more people become self-aware they are experiencing stress, that’s a big start. I also think being comfortable with saying the word ‘suicide’ and talking about your feelings a little bit or being that listening ear can really help that person overcome some of those obstacles.”
Some signs to watch out for are individuals losing interest in things they once enjoyed, increased stress levels, giving away personal possessions, mood swings, and increased isolation. There are many resources, including the recently launched MSU Farm Stress Teletherapy Program.
Karbowski is also featured in the weekly MSU Central Michigan Field Crops Update each Wednesday at 12:30 with his Mental Health Minute talking about farm stress. Karbowski’s full comments are available in the player above.