Suicide Prevention Week: Manage Stress On The Farm

Mental health should be a top priority for farm families. ( iStock )

Farming is stressful—this year proves challenging for even experienced farmers. However, it’s important for you, friends and family to remember that stress on the farm should be just that—stress on the farm. Your farm’s success doesn’t change who you are as a person or your value.

Remember that, and train yourself, your family and your friends in healthy ways to reduce stress and develop positive physical and mental health.

“Farm and ranch families often experience pressure, conflict and uncertainty,” said Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension family science specialist in a press release. “If feelings of frustration and helplessness build up, they can lead to intense family problems involving spouses or partners, children, parents and other relatives.

“If left unresolved, these feelings can lead to costly accidents, poor decisions, strained relationships, health concerns and risks—including suicide,” he continued.

Here are three ways Brotherson recommends dealing with stress:

  • Take Control of Events: plan ahead and find people who can help before key seasons, such as harvest and planting, arrive. Set priorities and focus on what needs to be done today and what can wait.
  • Take Control of Attitudes: identify sources of stress and which ones you cannot change. Shift your focus from worrying to problem solving, and focus on what you achieve rather than what wasn’t accomplished. Set realistic daily goals.
  • Take Control of Your Responses: when stressful situations arise don’t be afraid to step back and take a break. Relax your body and mind, take deep breaths, think positively, balance work and play and find someone to talk to or seek help if needed.

Keep watch of yourself and your family and friends. Stressful times can lead to desperate situations—which unfortunately could include suicide. Watch for signs of suicidal thoughts or actions.

For every suicide that results in death, there are 25 failed attempts. But there are concrete actions you can take as a family member or friend to reduce the risks, said Cassandra Linkenmeyer, Minnesota area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Know the signs. Learn them here. This week is Suicide Prevention Week, hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Mental health is a critical issue that farm families shouldn’t be afraid to address. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to your local mental health resources.