A high rate suicides among Washington farmers has drawn the attention of lawmakers in the state House of Representatives. Yelm Republican J.T. Wilcox comes from a family with more than 100 years of farming experience in western Washington. He said he read an article that struck him personally.
“This article pointed out that among all occupational groups, not only in the United States, but worldwide, farmers had the leading rate of suicide. I had no idea. This has not touched me or my family.”
Wilcox acknowledged that farming has ups and downs, good and bad seasons, and running the family farm is difficult work, which can lead to stressful situations.
“What you have in the farming world are people that are deeply committed, they are generational. But it is super high stress. And you have the unusual weight of generations on your shoulders. It also has a high rate of failure.”
In response Wilcox has proposed a bill that may be the first of its kind anywhere, a measure that would convene a state task force on behavioral health and suicide prevention in the Ag industry. He said it would also establish a pilot program in two farming counties to provide free counseling and suicide prevention resources. Wilcox said it’s about helping farmers and farm workers cope with the stresses of a hard life.
The measure has passed two House committees and is now awaiting a vote on the House floor.
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