A University of Iowa professor who’s done extensive research on farmer suicide is applauding proposed new legislation in Congress to address the worsening issue. Corinne Peek-Asa, a U-I professor of occupational and environmental health, says she and her team studied a wealth of federal data and found suicide rates were 45% higher for people in rural areas, and farmers stood out as having even higher rates compared to the general population.
Unlike someone who works in a bank, Peek-Asa says a farmer’s work is much more closely tied to their lives, making it harder to put stress away or to keep one’s work and personal lives separate.
One of the biggest challenges in suicide prevention, she says, is the stigma of talking about the topic, worries about seeking mental health care in general, and the availability of such care in rural areas.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is one of the two primary co-sponsors of the bill, called the Seeding Rural Resilience Act. A news release from Grassley’s office says the legislation aims to curb the rising rate of farmer suicides through a stress management training program.