Grown Here at Home: AgriStress is crisis helpline for farmers dealing with suicidal thoughts
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - With farming, there are so many unknowns – weather, the economy, equipment breaking down unexpectedly. Add to that the hard labor, no days off, and isolation; it can all weigh heavily on farmers. AgriSafe Network is a non-profit working to meet the health needs of farmers.
“If you look at the data from the CDC, among work occupations, agriculture, forestry, fishing and logging have some of the highest rates of death by suicide, compared to other occupations,” said Laura Siegel, health communications officer for AgriSafe Network.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched the AgriStress Helpline in 2022 to give farmers mental health support.
“It’s not just farmers and ranchers who are calling. It’s also their family members or their neighbors who are looking for resources or are concerned about someone they love,” Siegel explained.
The helpline is available 24/7. It’s free and confidential. Crisis specialists have access to a database of resources specifically for people living in Virginia.
“There’s a lot of stigma, especially in rural areas about getting help for mental health, and that’s lessened a lot in the past few decades, but it’s always good to just remind people that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal. They’re there to help you,” Seigel said.
If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts or needs to talk with someone about the stresses that come with working in agriculture – call or text the AgriStress Helpline at 833-897-2474 to speak with a crisis specialist.
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