September is National Suicide Prevention Month. According to the CDC, suicide rates for farmers are five times higher than the general population. Although suicide rates have risen in the last 10 years, ” studies have found community support can decrease stress, depression, and suicide,” according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension publication.
While the risk of a friend committing suicide may seem relatively low, it’s estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of people in the U.S. think about suicide at some time in their lives. In other words, one or two of your 10 closest friends may consider suicide at some point. The negative thoughts associated with stress and depression can be changed however, and people do get better.
If someone talks of suicide, makes comments hinting at suicide, suggests that people would be better off without him/her, or exhibits other warning signs, ask that person if they are considering suicide. Asking a person if they are contemplating suicide has not been shown to cause the person to consider suicide if they weren’t already. If someone is already considering suicide, asking them about it has not been shown to make the person more likely to make an attempt.
People struggling with stress, depression, or suicidal thoughts may think their feelings are too much of a burden to place on someone else. When you ask directly about their mental health and intentions, you are telling them it is not too much and that you care about them.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends the following guidelines to help someone who may be thinking about committing suicide:
• Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves.
• Listen without judging and show you care.
• Stay with the person (or make sure the person is in a private, secure place with another caring person) until you can get further help.
• Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
• Call SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and follow their guidance.
• If danger for self-harm seems imminent, call 911.
Preventing Farmer Suicides Rebekka Dudensing, Samuel D. Towne, Jr., and Carly E. McCord*