This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week, and Tuesday’s theme is Farmer Health and Suicide Prevention.
Saginaw County Farm Bureau started an initiative with farmers and other professionals in the fields to create a network of suicide alert individuals.
To accomplish this, Saginaw County has hosted a LivingWorks safeTALK training in partnership with Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network and started the conversation of farm stress and farmer suicide. According to Sarah Zastrow, CEO of Bay Area Wellness, this is going to be a big benefit.
“The stress that farmers feel is unlike any other occupation,” said Zastrow. “The Saginaw County Farm Bureau is working with lenders, seed dealers, and different agricultural professionals to help the farmers get the resources they need.”
Zastrow says a farmer might not be willing to go see a counselor, but they might say other things to elude to suicidal thoughts.
“What [a farmer] might say to the lender is, ‘I don’t know if this is even worth it anymore,’” she said. “Saginaw County is doing a great job at putting boots on the ground, letting people who already have developed relationships with the farmers that see what’s going on, letting them build that relationship, and in doing that, there’s less shame in seeking out help.”
In these times of uncertainty with trade disputes and tariffs, Zastrow says it’s important to manage the stress in a productive way.
“I always recommend doing a daily gratitude practice,” she said. “If you are able to search for gratitude every day, even when things are tough, that’s going to help your mental health. Second off, we need to start talking about mental health.”
If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Other resources include:
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741747
Farm Aid Hotine 1-800-327-6243
Listen to our full conversation on farmer suicide and opioids in rural America above.
Sarah Zastrow is the CEO of Bay Area Wellness and heads up the program “Conquer Your Pain: A Drug-Free Guide to Healing.” teaching people to live a drug-free life and teach them natural ways to heal the pain, rebuild their lives, and have a better sense of well-being. She grew up on a farm and is married to a farmer.