Kentucky is dedicating one day as Farmer Suicide Prevention Day
By Diego Flammini
A U.S. state is doing its part to continue to raise awareness about mental health and farmer suicides.
Kentucky is on the verge of passing House Bill 59, which designates “the Wednesday of National Farm Safety Week, which is the third week of September, as ‘Farmer Suicide Prevention Day.’”
Once enacted, the governor would annually proclaim the day as such and encourage citizens to recognize the mental health challenges in the ag industry and to support farmers and ag families.
Ag groups support the bill.
“As much as our farm families love what they do, there is a tremendous amount of stress that can come along with any farming operation, big or small; in good economic times or financial downturns,” Mark Haney, president of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, said in a March 4 statement. “It is no secret that the farm economy has been slow at best, and farmers are feeling the pressure of this economic environment to the point that stress on the farm and in rural communities has become more widespread.”
The path to House Bill 59 started with Sydney Pepper, a LaRue County high school senior and Future Farmers of America member who penned an essay about farmer suicide and brought the idea of Farmer Suicide Prevention Day forward.
Her piece “Letter to Dad” speaks to her father about the challenges of farming.
Her father is still with her, but for others that may not be the case, she said.
“I’ve never experienced it, but my family is a farming family and I’ve seen the tough times that we’ve gone through,” she told a State House Committee in February, WHAS11 reported. “I know that other people are out there hurting just like we were but they may handle it differently than we handled it and I want to bring emotion and bring attention to the fact that this is a serious issue going on right now in the agriculture community.”
Farms.com has reached out to Kentucky farmers for comment.