Suicide is never easy to talk about. Yet having a tough conversation, knowing the warning signs, and asking for help just may save a life.
Governor Bill Lee recognized Oct. 16 as Farmer Suicide Prevention Day in Tennessee. The purpose was to raise awareness about a tragedy that affects so many of our nation’s farmers and those they love.
“Suicide is a heartbreak that is deeply personal for me,” Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Two of my mentors have died by suicide. Their families and our community are affected by those losses every single day. I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence.”
While our farmers work to feed, fuel, and clothe a growing world population, they face near-constant uncertainty. Stressors specific to the farming community often include unpredictable weather, declining values and rising costs, personal or family concerns, work-related injuries, or loss of crops or livestock. Any of those challenges can lead to feelings of hopelessness and put those farmers at risk.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture recently joined the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) and other ag industry partners to create the Tennessee Farmers Suicide Prevention Task Force. The task force is working to proactively address farmer suicide in our state by recognizing the dangers of stress, providing resources and education to reduce the risk of suicide, and eliminating the stigma associated with asking for help.
“One death by suicide is one too many,” TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway said. “By partnering with this task force, TSPN will be better prepared to assist Tennessee farmers in getting the help they need to continue to prevent suicide in our state.”
There are often warning signs when a person is considering suicide – expressing thoughts of suicide or death, or feelings of hopelessness, a recent or pending loss, embarrassment, or failure, withdrawal from friends or social activities, loss of interest in work, school, or hobbies, neglecting personal health or appearance, giving away prized possessions, reckless or impulsive behavior or increased use of alcohol or drugs
If you or someone you love is struggling, you do not have to face it alone. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to talk to a person who cares and can help at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You can also call the state hotline 1-855-CRISIS-1 (274-7471) or text TN to 741741. You will find resources, warning signs, and information on the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s website www.tspn.org.