WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – New numbers show the suicide rate in the U.S. increasing. The CDC found suicide deaths increased by 5 percent in 2021 and another 2.6 percent in 2022.
For those that farm for a living, the rate is worse. But one Harvey County farmer is raising awareness on a topic that still has a stigma.
Anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts can affect us all. Even those in the farming and agriculture sectors of society. According to the National Rural Health Association, the suicide rate among farmers is three-and-a-half times higher than the general population. But there is help for those who need it.
On some mornings, it’s difficult for Steve McCloud to get out of bed. The last few years have been challenging, and it has taken its toll on him mentally.
“When you’re in a situation looking at drought, prices of all kinds, having to liquidate a herd because you don’t have enough hay or grass, or the ponds are dry, all these things weigh on you,” said McCloud.
As farmers tend to be a resilient bunch, McCloud said there is a stigma regarding mental health, and it often tends to be a silent battle.
“It becomes very quickly where it is easy to see there is no way out, or maybe, suicide is the only way out, and that is absolutely tragic,” said Dr. Bailey Blair, a licensed master social worker with the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.
The ongoing drought and severe weather, have all contributed to the problem. Dr. Blair said Kansas Ag Stress is a resource for help.
“Maybe they want to talk to someone that looks like them, that knows about those issues and how they impact the person’s entire life, ” she said.
McCloud has been working to raise awareness of this ongoing problem, and providing mental health tool kits and other resources and solutions to farmers in every Kansas county. He wants to let his fellow farmers know there is help available.
“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to raise your hand and say, ‘I need help.’ We’re hoping this at least provides an indication or some help in doing that,” McCloud said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please call 9-8-8. Someone at the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available to talk and director you to resources that can help.
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