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Increased suicide among farmers attributed to financial, climate and lifestyle issues

The Rev. Ann Zastrow of First Lutheran Church near Pipestone, Minn., feeds a newborn lamb with the help of sheep farmer Craig Thies. Zastrow is among the 80 rural clergy members who are taking a Minnesota online suicide prevention course in hopes of building up her confidence to remind those struggling with mental health that "God is still in the picture." (Jessie Wardarski/AP)
The Rev. Ann Zastrow of First Lutheran Church near Pipestone, Minn., feeds a newborn lamb with the help of sheep farmer Craig Thies. Zastrow is among the 80 rural clergy members who are taking a Minnesota online suicide prevention course in hopes of building up her confidence to remind those struggling with mental health that "God is still in the picture." (Jessie Wardarski/AP)

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

A disturbing statistic: The suicide rate for male agricultural workers in the United States is two times the national average, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. This comes as overhead costs skyrocket, climate change brings more storms, drought and changing weather patterns, and interest rates continue to rise. Now, clergy in affected regions, including North and South Dakota and Minnesota, are taking notice, and stepping in to help.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks to South Dakota Pastor and former farmer Alan Blankenfeld, who founded Moody County Cares, and Flandreau, South Dakota, farmer Todd Sanderson, who is part of the group.

Mental health resources

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.