safeTALK: Talking through the stigma that comes with farming

Stigma is defined as a disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person according to dictionary.com. Suicide in the farming community has its own special twist to the stigma word.

“Farmers currently live on the same income they had fifteen years ago, which means a decrease of income with an increased debt. The suicide rate in farmers/ranchers/agriculture managers is 2-3.5 times higher than the national rate” said Glen Bloomstorm, who presented to more than 30 participants Wednesday at the safeTALK in Faribault.  “Natural helpers are the key to safety. These individuals are friends, family and elders. We need more trained confident leaders, and this is what safeTALK is all about.”

This safeTALK training sessions started out as six session, but with the overabundance of interest, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture opened an additional three session and they may not be limited to the scheduled nine. MDA Senior Advisor Meg Moynihan asked participants to connect with others interested to sign up, even if there was a wait list.

“By being on the wait list, allows us to connect with you if more sessions open up,” she said.

SafeTALK stands for Suicide Alertness For Everyone Tell Ask Listen KeepSafe. Many individuals in the farming industry have great pride in the work they do, but when it comes to asking for help, it is a tall request, Bloomstorm says.

“One in four American adults need help right now, but they won’t ask for it,” he said. “Every day across America, someone attempts to take their own life every 28 seconds and a death by suicide occurs every 11 minutes.”

One attendee was from a farm in Scott County, and shared that her brother had tried suicide and is still recovering both mentally and physically.

“I wasn’t going to attend, but last night I knew it was in my best interest because my brother has been graced with a second chance,” she said. “By coming to sessions like this, I am more comfortable sharing our experiences and bringing awareness to the suicide community.”

Many individuals will go to the doctor if they are not feeling well but when it comes to stress and mental health, many times, we become our own enemy, our own doctor. SafeTALK is designed for anyone 15 or above to attend.

The learning outcomes include:

  • Move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss, or avoid suicide;
  • Recognize people who have thoughts of suicide;
  • Apply the TLK steps (Tell Ask, Listen< and KeepSafe) to connect a person with thought of suicide to a suicide first-aid intervention caregiver.

The seminar concluded with a “message of hope” from MDA Suicide Prevention Coordinator Amy Lopez.

“Whether it is you personally who has struggled with the thought of suicide or you know someone whom maybe has the thought, safeTALK equips us with the resources to help them or direct them to help, let’s keep our family and neighbors safe,” she said.

Who can you, a friend, coworker and or neighbor connect with today?

  • Rural Mental Health Specialists:
  • Farm and Rural Helpline:
    • 833.600.2670
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
    • 1.800.273.8255
    • Text for Life: 741741

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