According to some agricultural aficionados, some U.S. farmers are living on the type of income they were earning from over a decade and a half ago, which has been speculated as the reason why so many farmers have committed suicide. Farmers are committing suicide at more than five times that of the population. As the trend of suicide rates in the U.S. has risen over the past three decades, farmers have taken the lead more than any other American demographic. No other occupational group has had a higher recurring suicide rate as farmers, according to the (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.S., economic reasons have been cited as a link to depression for farmers. For farmer advocate groups, it is deja vu all over again for them, as they’ve been witness to the 1980s farmer suicide outbreak with the exception of this one being deemed as worse. This support group in close contact with farmers have enough intel to attest that the farm economy is the source of producing anxiety for farmers
According to the (USDA) U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmer income has been on a steady decline. Farmers have seen a roughly 45% decrease in the average net national income since 2016 –almost half of their agricultural income has disappeared over the last three years. Can you imagine your income going from $60,000 to a little over $30,000? Income hasn’t been that low for farmers in around thirteen years! In addition to that, unforeseen natural occurrence often undermines the prices of crops and livestock. If it’s not already bad enough that farmers operate at a loss, they have to further sink into debt by taking out loans with growing interest rates to fund operation costs, as well as baring increasing living expense and shouldering other taxing forms of government bureaucracy. It is not uncommon for farmers to have to take on second jobs to try to make ends meet.
Another CDC sample size study uncovered that suicides have increased fast and highly in countryside areas. Interesting enough, countries like India are also facing the same farmer suicide phenomenon, where 60,000 farmer suicides have been reported. In the midst of this, mental health awareness and the access to mental health treatment has been at the forefront of this. The sweeping suicide phenomenon is a growing issue that hasn’t been the easiest to control at any time or anywhere, however, the U.S. government has been reactive in taking steps to address it. For a new push for employees in the agricultural industry, Congress is passing a bill this year allowing for the creation of a pilot program: this program will allow for free access to behavioral health support and suicide prevention for the well-being of workers within the agricultural sector.