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Legislation, Task Force Aim To Raise Awareness of Suicide Among Farmers

migrant farm worker
Rhonda Miller
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Some Kentucky legislators want to raise awareness about suicide among farmers.

House Bill 59 would declare the third Wednesday of September, “Farmer Suicide Prevention Day” to bring awareness to mental health challenges that farmers face.

“This issue has been around for a long time. It’s just that it really hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves and is, often times, a hard conversation to have,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

Quarles said the bill is designed to start those conversations about suicide.

“We’re just trying to tell folks, ‘this issue exists, resources are available, and that we’re going to continue to look for funding at the national level to help deal with this.’”

TheCDC has ranked suicide rates among farming, fishing and forestry workers as the ninth worst among working groups in the nation.

A task force is collecting data on the problem in Kentucky, Quarles said.

“Sometimes, [the farm community is] the last one to ask for help if they need it,” Quarles said. “We actually don’t know how often these incidents occur or how severe the need is.”

The task force hopes to present a draft of proposals to address mental health and suicide prevention among farmers. 

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.