After the Guardian and EHRP published a piece about the record number of farmers who are killing themselves, there were hundreds of responses
On 6 December, The Guardian and EHRP published our piece Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? We hoped for a reaction, but the feedback we received was beyond any expectations we might have had.
Today when I spoke with farm psychologist Dr Mike Rosmann, who featured heavily in the piece, he was wading through a slew of new messages and responding to an email from a farmer in Europe. Since the story was published, Rosmann says “the faucet has turned on”. He has received hundreds of comments and requests, online and by phone, many of which he says are from farmers reaching out for support.
In the past week, we’ve heard from farmers in the US, Canada, India, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy. Audra Mulkern, the photographer for this story and my storytelling partner, heard from Australian farmers about the multi-year drought causing distress.
“My grandparents were a team,” one person wrote, “One would cut hay and the other would rake it. We (grandkids) were right beside her hand unloading and stacking the hay sometimes more than a thousand bales a day. The day the shelves are empty is the day people will realize how important farmers are.”
On her blog, a young Canadian farmer wrote: “As I sat thinking about why the article upset me so much other than the obvious reasons I realized that at this moment in time; when it comes to farming I feel like I am digging my own grave to follow my dreams.”
“Thanks for shining light on the issue of suicide,” wrote one psychiatrist. “I hope to get more Mental Health services going in my farm community.”
We’ve heard from countless consumers who want to know how to help.
We’ve heard from organizations now brainstorming new rural helplines and outreach initiatives.
We’ve heard from other journalists covering the rural crisis, organizers adding sessions on stress management to farm conference schedules, and agricultural sales representatives who want to know how to look for warning signs among their farmer clients.