Farmer to Farmer Suicide Prevention
In the fall of 2018, the Sauk County community pulled together after a farmer died by suicide. During this challenging time, community members reached out to the family to comfort, support, and listen as they worked through the emotions that followed. As some community members chatted about the extreme sadness and feeling of helplessness surrounding the family and community, a farmer shared they had also suffered from severe depression and battled many thoughts of suicide in the past.
At this point, they realized there was a need to support the community and families in similar situations. During the winter months, they created a safe space to come together and talk about farm stress and suicide over the lunch hour. They brought in speakers and resources to listen to and utilize during these difficult times. The farmer's family and other community members decided to share their stories to help others learn about farm stress and mental health concerns in rural communities, and Farmer Angel Network (FAN) was formed.
The Farmer Angel Network continues to build strong rural communities that support agriculture by providing education, resources, and fellowship with a focus on mental health. This group includes farmers, healthcare workers, veterinarians, Sauk County Health Department, Sauk County Land and Water Department, Extension Sauk County, Church members, HCE members, and many others from the Sauk County Community.
Agricultural communities, often by the nature of their work, struggle to seek access to traditional mental health supports, and are communities in which talking about even the most basic feelings may not be common. Farmers are used to bearing a significant amount of physical stress and hardship by the very nature of what they do.
Where farmers used to have natural support systems in place with card playing circles, chore rotations amongst neighborhoods, after church gatherings, canning events, etc…where farms got together to support each other to prepare for seasonal activities or help with big events or when bad things happen…this happens less and less now.
Farmer Angel Network is one organization that is seeking to help communities get back to these practices and help neighbors get help when they need it. The goal of Farmer Angel Network over time is to end isolation and help communities come back together. Right now, Farmer Angel Network needs health care providers and communities to know that there are a lot of farmers and farm families suffering in silence and they 1.) don’t know that there is help, 2.) that it's hard for them to ask for it once they do, and 3.) that help may very well need to come to them.