Tag: suicide

Politically abandoned by both major parties, farmer suicide rates higher than during 1980’s farm crisis

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.


The 1980’s was not a good decade for American midwestern family farmers by anyone’s imagination. In fact, for much of the 1980’s, the Upper Midwest was in the grip of a crippling farm crisis that drove thousands of family farmers off of their land and drove many to take their own lives.

In 2017, the suicide rate among male farmers in the United States is much higher than it was during the 1980’s:

The National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield, Wis., tracked farm suicides during the 1980s in the Upper Midwest, the region most affected by the farm crisis, to try to better understand the relationships between the farm economy and suicide.

They found that 913 male farmers in the region committed suicide during that decade, with rates peaking in 1982 at 58 suicides for every 100,000 male farmers and ranchers.

[…]

Compare that with this year’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report, which found that current national suicide rates for people working in agriculture are 84.5 per 100,000 overall, and 90.5 per 100,000 among males. This means that suicide rates among male farmers are now more than 50 percent higher than they were in 1982, at the peak of the farm crisis.

(Emphasis is mine; I was not able to find a 1982 figure for suicide rates among the overall farmer and rancher population.)

There are major reasons why the suicide rate among farmers and ranchers is so high. First, crop prices are low to the point that farmers are not getting a fair price for their crop and rural communities that are dependent on the agricultural industry are suffering as a result of it. Second, farmers and ranchers have been effectively abandoned by both major political parties: most, but not all, farmers and ranchers in the United States vote for Republican political candidates, but Republican agricultural policies negatively impact family farmers and ranchers, and most Democratic elected officials who remain in office represent heavily-urbanized political constituencies, so the Democratic Party has increasingly ignored the legitimate concerns of rural voters.

Something is seriously wrong in rural America when the suicide rate among those who produce our nation’s food is extremely high.

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(TRIGGER WARNING) Roanoke, Virginia local news reporter and news photographer shot and killed on live television

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article includes a vivid description of a murder that many readers would find to be unsettling.


Alison Parker (left) and Adam Ward (right) (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News Twitter page)
Alison Parker (left) and Adam Ward (right) (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News Twitter page)

Alison Parker, a reporter for WDBJ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, and Adam Ward, a news photographer for the same station, were shot and killed earlier this morning at Bridgewater Plaza (a miniature golf course, arcade room, shops, and restaurants that primarily serve tourists at Smith Mountain Lake) in Moneta, Virginia. The shooting occurred as Parker was doing a live, on-air interview. Parker was 24 years of age; Ward was 27 years of age. Vester Flanagan, a former WDBJ reporter who went under the stage name Bryce Williams when he was a WDBJ employee, was the perpetrator of the attack; Flanagan fled the scene and committed suicide in another part of Virginia.

I’ve seen video of the shooting once (it’s been plastered all over social media), and I don’t want to see it again, but I will give a description of the shooting. Parker was interviewing a subject about a light subject of some kind and several shots were fired. Parker remained very calm as the first couple of shots that were fired, but then Parker began screaming extremely loudly (although I didn’t actually see a bullet enter Parker’s body on-camera, I’m guessing Parker began screaming after she had been hit by one or more bullets), and then the camera was knocked over in a way that it was filming a deck or balcony and that Parker was not in the view of the camera lens. It’s the single most disturbing thing I’ve ever watched online.

Many people don’t realize this, but journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Even if they’re not covering war or some other type of hostility, journalists, especially if they work in television, are regularly in the public eye and do their jobs with the constant threat that someone might harm, or even kill, them for whatever reason. Additionally, those who work with journalists, such as news photographers, face the same threats as journalists do. Parker and Ward were shot and killed while doing a fluff piece.