Farm Aid is grateful for the opportunity to take part in The Young Farmers podcast, produced by the National Young Farmers Coalition. Farm Aid’s farmer advocate Joe Schroeder was a recent guest on the second episode of a two-part series on farmer suicide.
The issue hits close to home for the National Young Farmers Coalition: they lost one of their own farmer members to suicide in 2017. Justin McClane was a founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition. Though they knew Justin was going through a tough time, his friends and fellow farmers didn’t imagine it would ever come to that for Justin. They decided to come together and tell his story to try to break down barriers around talking about mental and behavioral health, inspire policy change, and grow support for programs addressing the farmer mental health crisis in this country.
In part two, the podcast continues that discussion and adds more voices; Matt Perdue of the National Farmers Union, Joe Schroeder of Farm Aid, and journalist Debbie Weingarten, author of the pivotal The Guardian piece on farmer suicide, “Why are America’s farmers killing themselves?”
We hope you’ll take a listen and take solace in the action you can take to advocate for farmers. You can text “FARM CRISIS” to 40649 to ask your Members of Congress to support the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network so that it receives full funding and can get to work increasing the safety net available for farmers and ranchers.
After Justin’s death, the Washington chapter of National Young Farmers Coalition wrote:
We were heartbroken and shocked by Justin’s death by suicide, and surprised to learn the degree of his private struggle with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. We are moved by our regrets of not knowing, to reach out to all in our network and offer support in any way possible for others who may be struggling. The sometimes isolated farming lifestyle, the daily challenge of making financial ends meet while trying to farm, the stigma around reaching out for help with emotional or mental health issues – these are issues relevant to our young farmer community and we need to do a better job supporting each other.
This is a job for all of us, and we all have a role to play, whether you’re a farmer, someone who works with farmers, a customer of a farmers market or CSA, or a friend of a farmer.
To learn more about the challenges farmers and ranchers face in dealing with stress, check out our fact sheet, Why Farmers Face Unique Threats from Stress.
Resources for Farmers in Crisis
If you’re a farmer who needs to talk to someone directly (or someone who is worried about a farmer), we are here to listen. You can call our farmer hotline at 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327- 6243). Joe, Annie and other Farm Aid staff answer the Farm Aid hotline Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
If you are considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to talk to someone at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).