Brandon Delvo, a fifth-generation North Dakotan, farmer and Community Organizing Specialist with ND Farmers Union, thinks we could do better.
"The worst agricultural downturn since the 1980s is taking its toll on the emotional well-being of American farmers."
I receive about two calls a month from people telling me that there's been another suicide on the farm. Now, those are only the ones I am notified about, but I know there's more.
This is also a conversation about rural isolation. Where people have to travel farther for basic goods and services and our long winters in this region can have their impact on people.
With each of those phone calls I'm left asking myself if we have done enough, and each time that answer is no we haven't. So when someone says, "I'm at my brink," don't just say, "Yeah, I hear ya." Ask them if they are OK and begin to recognize the signs. I get it, we usually don't like to talk about our feelings. I know this too well from being in a combat unit in the military, but we need to start somewhere.
North Dakota Farmers Union has been working with numerous ag groups on this, we have begun that conversation addressing mental health and we have many things that will be unveiled this spring and throughout the year.
We all believe in that sense of community in the Upper Midwest. Looking out for your neighbor and their well-being is part of that.
Delvo is a Community Operations Specialist with North Dakota Farmers Union, a fifth-generation North Dakotan and an advocate for family farms.
Learn more about warning signs & how to help: https://www.lssnd.org/farmstress