NPR - UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION AND SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR IN MALE FARMERS AND RANCHERS
Suicides by male farmers and ranchers—precipitated by depression and stressful life events—are the highest of any industry. Farming and ranching is characterized by high stress. Financial pressure, livestock disease outbreak, government and environmental pressure, drought, and family crisis can overwhelm farmers and ranchers. Throughout the global world, suicide among agriculturalists is higher than the general public.
Almost all suicides involve a combination of at least two major factors: mental disorder, particularly those including severe depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse (especially alcoholism), along with extreme hopelessness, often arising from distressing life events perceived by the person as overwhelming and unmanageable. Neither a mental disorder nor hopelessness and stressful life events alone may lead directly to suicide. When they come together and the psychological pain is unbearable, suicidal thoughts and behaviors may occur and can exceed the person’s coping ability.
Not every farmer or rancher experiences suicidal thoughts and not everyone who does experience such thoughts engages in suicidal behaviors. What is unbearable for one person is not necessarily unbearable for another. The absence or presence of positive ways to cope with difficult personal situations may be one major difference in whether someone finds their situation intolerable or not.
This paper describes depression in men; how male socialization places farmers and ranchers at risk for depression and suicidal thoughts or behavior; why depression can lead to fatal suicide; and how others can provide support to farmers and ranchers who are experiencing depression leading to fatal suicide.
Keywords: depression, fatal suicide, male socialization, seeking help.