Intentional self-harm (suicide)
# 11. cause of death in 2005
Suicide Rates on the Rise
A new five-year analysis of the nation’s death rates recently released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention found that the suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds increased nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, the
latest year studied, far outpacing changes in nearly every other age group. (All figures are adjusted for population.)
For women 45 to 54, the rate leapt 31 percent. “That is certainly a break from trends of the past,” said Ann Haas, the
research director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
July 23, 2009...8:22 am
Farmer suicides — not just in India
Jump to Comments
Here’s a disturbing story about how “Economic strife in farming communities leads some to tragic ends“, from the
Bangor Daily News in Maine:
Even in England and Wales, rate of suicide among farmers is twice the national average, and that's according to
DEFRA, the UK Gov't department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“….Increased suicide among farmers is a national trend and Maine is not exempt. “They don’t call it a depression for
nothin’,” one Maine farmer, who asked not to be identified, said recently.
Earlier this year, a farmer in southern Maine hanged himself in his barn. Recently, two central Maine farmers in
separate communities — one an organic milk producer — shot and killed themselves.
Fellow farmers are blaming the economic crisis in agriculture — particularly in dairy — for the tragedies. Expansions
were made, equipment purchased and loans taken out. Then the price farmers were paid for their milk crashed. Credit
was cut off and some farmers just couldn’t see a way out.
Martin Lane of Shady Lane Farms in New Vineyard said he believes most farmers are struggling with depression but
that they keep it to themselves. He said he has been on anti-depression medication for two years.
“I have to get up in the morning and look my kids in the eye and know that I’ll not be able to help them out like I said I
would,” Lane said. “It certainly is a problem when I can’t come through on my promises to my children.”
In 2008, 14 Colorado farmers killed themselves, according to the Denver Post, double the number the previous year. In
California, the nation’s No. 1 dairy state, two dairy farmers have killed themselves in the past six months.
The U.S. is not alone in this trend. In April 2009, 1,500 farmers in India committed suicide after their crops failed.
Tomato farmers in Ghana and drought-ridden farmers in Australia are also taking their lives, according to news
The problem is so severe that the National Farmers Union and others are lobbying federal officials to provide funding
for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, adopted by Congress last year, which mandates a national hot line
network for farmers in serious trouble.
“If you had time to go and visit, one on one, with every farmer in Maine, they’d all say the same thing. Farmers want to
talk honestly about how bad it is but they are too full of pride,” Lane said.
Speaking reverently of one of the deceased Maine farmers, who are not being identified in this article out of respect for
their families, Clinton dairy farmer Richard Lary said recently, “He milked 380 cows and has gone through a lot of
expansion over the past couple of years.”
Lary said he knew the farmer well and that the man just couldn’t take the volatility of the milk pricing market.
“It just goes to show you, this economic pressure is hitting the big guys just as hard as the little ones,” Lary said. “I am
absolutely sick over this.”
Farmers aren’t the only ones who know about the trend.
“We are absolutely aware of these types of situations and they are a grave concern for us,” state Agriculture
Commissioner Seth Bradstreet said last month.
“We had a conference call yesterday with the undersecretary of agriculture and other states’ commissioners and, in
fact, these tragedies are being reported elsewhere too. The New Hampshire commissioner said there were several
[farmer suicides] over there this year.”…”
“….In the retail market, organic milk can easily cost twice as much as conventional milk and, for the farmer, this
translated into premiums and bonuses that lured many conventional dairy farmers in Maine to switch to organic, which
they believed would be more profitable.
Organic dairies grew by leaps and bounds throughout New England over the past 15 years. By 2006, organic dairy
farming had become the fastest-growing agricultural sector in New England, and Maine had the highest percentage of
organic dairy farms compared with conventional farms in the country — 16 percent.
But it takes three years to switch from conventional to organic production and, for many of the Maine producers, the
market took a drastic slide backward during that time.
As the economy collapsed, so did consumers’ shopping habits. Organic milk purchases plummeted; even conventional
milk sales slipped.
“The result is not just a loss of farms,” Lary said. “Now it’s a loss of farmers.”…”
Read the whole story on bangordailynews.com
Source page for the DEFRA chart on UK farmer suicides.
And now, something from India — “Why Farmers Commit Suicide?” from the Fragrance of Thought Flowers blog:
“Recently a prominent web site conducted a POLL . It was related to farmer’s suicides.
They asked five questions.
Why are farmers committing suicide?:
1. Psychological imbalance
2. Climatic changes
3. GM(Genetically Modified) Seeds
4. Are they committing suicides?
5. Government Policies
This is surprising . It looks the questions have come from urban comfort. These kind of ‘intelligent ‘ journalists are ruling
the ruse. I remember having seen a debate program in NDTV while I was in Delhi. There were about 100 people in the
audience. The debate was about issues to be discussed in parliament. The anchor asked “how many of you support
farmer’s cause?” To my utter surprise there was literally no one to raise the hands!. The anchor also got surprised he
then said “ What is this ? are you guys not eating anything ? “
They all laughed it out and continued with another topic. This is how urban India thinks of agriculture.
Look how easily they decided upon five points. Are there no other points? Where is the economic hardship? Rise in
price of products in general and sky rocketing labour charges? Is there a comparable increase in price of agriculture
“…I would say besides all other things Change in life style is a major cause here. Earlier these farmers lived in remote
areas inaccessible by road. They lived with minimum things. They had very limited needs. Now there are roads to every
nook and corner and there is electricity too. Along with electricity all gadgets came. Television is the most important
thing. It spoiled the mindset. The demand for things hither to unheard and unused increased dramatically. More shops
and shopping complexes was the result. More avenues to spend money drained the purse. But there was no income to
cope with this. The prices of agri products reduced because of globalization. Import of pepper, copra, cardamom and
other spices from Sri Lanka, Africa etc. caused less demand in local markets. The labour charges increased
considerably because of leftist interference and unionism.. Since the family’s life style changed the farmer had to meet
the demands. He wanted more money to live. On the other side his income decreased. The banks and local
moneylenders came forward merrily. Loan melas of Wayand were famous. Every bank had conducted loan melas.
Couple of years … and the Japthi notices starts arriving. It reaches point of eviction from houses. What the poor weak
minded farmer will do? Other than deciding to leave the place quietly? Sometimes en-masse with family….”