WSDA, WSU, DOH Team Up To Address Stress Farmer Suicide

Last month, the Washington State Department of Agriculture received a $500,000 grant to work in partnership with Washington State University and the state Department of Health to address stress as well as suicide prevention in the farming community. Hector Castro with the WSDA said the USDA grant will go to two specific tracks over the next year.

“The first is developing a network of financial planning assistance to help those in agriculture manage financial challenges.  WSU Extension is going to take the lead on this, working to create workshops on financial planning.  And then the second track is this development of a network of providers for mental health counselling for people in agriculture who are dealing with significant stress.”

Castro noted it has been documented that farmers and those in agriculture suffer from a higher suicide rate than the general population. He noted while many farmers won’t talk about it, stress and mental health issues are unfortunately a big problem facing those that produce our food, fuel and fiber.

“And the past two years have been particularly challenging with the weather disasters we’ve seen, the trade wars, and then of course the pandemic we’re still dealing with.  So, helping farmers and farm workers cope in all of this, it seems like the least we could do as an agency for the people who grow our food.”

This is National Suicide Prevention week, which runs September 5th through 11th. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is (800) 273-8255, or you can visit the Lifeline’s Website.

If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]

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