OLYMPIA, Washington — An excessive rate of suicides among farmers has drawn the attention of lawmakers in the Washington State House of Representatives. Out of all occupational groups worldwide, farmers have the highest rate of suicide. It is a surprising fact, and State Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) didn’t know that either … even though his family has been in the farm industry for over 100 years.
Wilcox, who grew up on Wilcox Family Farms, knows the ups and downs of good and bad seasons, the difficult work of keeping a farm running, and the high stress it can bring. The statistics made sense to him.
“What you have in the farming world are people that are deeply committed; they are generational,” Wilcox says. “But it is super high stress and you have the unusual weight of generations on your shoulders.”
Legislation introduced by Wilcox would convene a state task force on suicide prevention in the agricultural industry and would also establish a pilot program into farming counties to provide free counseling and suicide prevention resources. The measure has passed a House committee and is now awaiting a vote on the House floor.