CASCO, Wis. (WFRV) – “They are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than your average, adult male who is in a different career,” Mariah Vandertie told Local 5 News of farmers.
She found the grim statistic after tragedy struck close to home.
“In our area, a local family, farming family, that was heavily impacted by a farmer suicide this year,” she explained, “and a family friend of Jeremy’s, and that was a big moment for us.”
Jeremy Iwen, Vandertie’s boyfriend, is a farmer himself. He knows all about the stress that comes with the job.
“If you go to bed at night and you’re stressed about something from the previous day, it doesn’t just disappear the next day,” Iwen, said. “It all just kind of, snowballs down a hill and eventually you get to the bottom of the hill, and it’s tough.”
Vandertie added, “Crops and milk prices, and everything that goes into that because it is a business. It’s so volatile and up and down that it can cause a huge amount of stress for these families and these farmers.”
Iwen says that stress often goes undiscussed.
“Farmers have thick skin,” he explained. “They kind of build a wall around themselves, more of just the, ‘I’ll deal with it myself’ attitude, and eventually that catches up.”
As a seventh-grade teacher in a farming community, Vandertie says she wants her students who aspire to join the agriculture business to know that they are not alone.
“I want them to know that, if they’re ever struggling, there’s help out there,” she said. “There’s resources out there for them.”
The pair has planned a benefit ‘Drive to End Farmer Suicide’ to raise funds for impacted local families and awareness.
The benefit begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, August 28th at JW’s Place in Casco.
It will feature Bucket Raffles, a 50/50 Raffle, and company. Anyone is welcome to stop by the event.
Vandertie hopes the benefit helps spark a conversation. “Bring awareness to this and try and get resources out there for our local farming families,” she said.