Farmer Suicide in Wisconsin: A Qualitative Analysis

A recent qualitative study featuring PISC External Advisory Board Member Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH, evaluates the circumstances that lead to suicide among American farmers. Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, 73 farmer suicides between the years 2012 and 2016 in Wisconsin were analyzed. The majority of these farmers were White, non-Hispanic males. Through qualitative data analysis, results indicated four unique contextual factors to each suicide: physical health issues, grief from the loss of relationships, ready access to firearms in rural Wisconsin, and the burden of farming. Understanding these contextual factors can inform future suicide prevention programming among farmers. Specifically, in suicide prevention, accessibility to firearms should be considered. The team concludes, “suicide prevention programming that addresses access to lethal means must take the sociocultural context of rural America into consideration.”

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