Sarah Ricker is the Crisis Program Manager for Region 4 South and spoke at the Morris American Legion. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

With suicide rates climbing in the farming community, Region 4 South Crisis Program Manager Sarah Ricker recently told a group at the Morris American Legion that treatment for farmers at risk is available and effective, but the problem is complicated.

“That’s something that’s always on Region 4’s radar: farmers,” said Ricker. “The whole culture is so different. Talking about much more isolation, the chance of having a firearm in the house goes up, financial stressors, there are people who are losing their farms that were generational farms.”

Ricker said stereotypes and stigmas abound around mental health, and said only 5 percent of violent crimes are committed by people with a mental illness. Some 70 percent of people with a mental illness report that their lives have been improved with treatment. Ricker also recommended talking openly about suicide and mental illness, and listening to people and their stories, without trying to “fix the problem.”

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