(Note: Today I’ll be talking about suicide, which can be a really painful topic. I’ll be focusing on suicide prevention.)
In this blog we’ve talked a lot about stress and how at its most extreme it can significantly increase the risk of suicide. We’ve talked about ways to recognize someone experiencing dangerous stress levels and ways to reach out. But, as a friend of mine who worked in a lab used to say “If some is good, more is better.” So let’s talk a little more…
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Prevention means doing something before the crisis happens. We’ve talked about all sorts of ways to manage stress and be SAFER (Sleep, be Aware of your stress levels, Focus on positives and gratitude, Eat well and drink water, Reach out to talk to someone)—these are all ways to reduce the risk of emotional distress and suicide.
SAFER is a form of protection for you, and for anyone you care about who is going through stress. What are some other protective factors for people in farming? Recent work looking at farmer suicide found that these things helped protect farmers who were experiencing high stress that could lead to suicide:
- Peer support: Talking to other people you trust and who understand your situation is important. Isolation is a risk factor for suicide;
- Accessing healthcare: Talking with your doctor about your stress and getting their ideas for support, which could include counseling and/or medication;
- Family support: Having a caring family and trusting them with the realities of your situation, instead of hiding and being stoic, is important;
- Mental health education: Understanding mental health helps reduces stigma and gives you a perspective on your emotions and ways to cope.
Help in a Crisis
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, protective factors aren’t enough, and you or someone you care about may be thinking about suicide. Remember that the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call or text any time.
If you want more information about ways to manage stress, cope with mental health challenges, help a friend who is thinking about suicide, or find services for yourself, you can go to any of these sites. The important thing is to take care—you and your loved ones deserve it!