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Bob Larson Farmer Suicides
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Washington State Farm Bureau Report
Date: February 09, 2018

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I’m Bob Larson. An excessive rate of suicides among farmers is getting plenty of attention in Olympia from lawmakers.

Yelm Representative J.T. Wilcox’ family has farmed in the Nisqually River watershed in East Pierce and Thurston counties for more than 110 years, but in December, he says he found an article in a national publication that deeply affected him …

WILCOX-1: “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 understands the ups and downs of good and bad growing seasons, the difficult work of keeping a farm running, and the stress it can brings, and says the statistics made sense …

WILCOX-2: “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.”

So, the 2nd District Republican has proposed a bill that may be the first of its kind, a measure that would establish a state task force on behavioral health and suicide prevention in the ag industry. It would also establish a pilot program in two farming counties to provide free counseling and suicide prevention resources.

Wilcox says it’s about helping farmers and farm workers cope with the stresses …

WILCOX-3: “They are people that perhaps have a tradition of not asking for a lot of help.”

The measure has passed two House committees and is now awaiting a vote on the House floor.

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