Climbing the Hill Together
Data from a recent study conducted by the Arizona Suicide and Prevention Coalition reports that 1 in every 10 adults has experienced a noticeable and significant increase in psychological distress within the past two years.
Working in agriculture continues to be extremely stressful. According to AgWeb.com, the startling reality is that the rate of suicide among farmers and ranchers is 3.5 times higher than the general population.
The Action Plan for Suicide Prevention in Arizona states: “Major statewide risk factors for suicide include (and are not limited to) …lack of access to rural primary and behavioral health care. Challenges facing Arizona relate to a lack of care providers statewide and navigating the significantly different environments of urban and rural populations.”
Discussing emotional and mental distress as well as seeking treatment remains largely stigmatized even with this stark data justifying a critical need. Prevention starts with education and advocacy and connection to programs that understand and support a rural lifestyle, traditional values, beliefs, and a certain way of life. For hard workers, who understand that they reap what they sow, it can be a difficult thing to accept that we cannot control and that we may need help. We need a community of members who understand and support each other through these struggles and make resources available in rural areas where access to care is difficult physically and financially. When you can trust that someone understands what your land, livestock, water, farm, ranch, county, country, and livelihood mean to you, it can be helpful to know that you are not alone.
There is good news. Another recent poll by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and conducted by Morning Consult indicates that farmers and ranchers are more willing to talk about their struggles. In their latest poll asking about mental health, Farmers and people in rural areas are more comfortable talking about stress and mental health challenges with others, and stigma around seeking help or treatment has decreased in rural and farm communities, but it is still a factor. AFBF’s back-to-back polls on this have allowed them to witness slight improvements in people’s willingness to communicate and overcome the stigma. This is good news but only the beginning.
The National Institute of Health released a study that suggests our literal physical, visual, and emotional perception of difficulty and pain registers significantly less when we believe we have help and support. When we face a difficult climb, there is proof that having those you trust in the process can make the mountain seem less treacherous.
If you or someone you care about is exhibiting symptoms of suicidal ideation, depression, or anxiety please utilize the free resources in the nearby graphics.