New website hosts resources for Kansas farmers who feel stressed, suicidal

photo by: Associated Press

In this Friday, June 15, 2018 photo, winter wheat is harvested in a field near McCracken, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

In response to high suicide rates among America’s farmers, a new website developed by the Kansas Department of Agriculture provides resources and support to those dealing with stress.

Kelsey Olson, KDA’s assistant secretary of agriculture, led the effort in creating the website:

“I just thought that there was a need for a consolidated location of resources for our farmers and ranchers,” she said.

Olson said that, to her knowledge, Kansas was the only state whose site on the topic was not embedded in the state agency’s website and that did not have a .gov website domain.

She said she thought it was important that the website lack a government domain because some Kansans are skeptical of or do not trust the government. The KDA is not trying to trick Kansans, however, Olson noted. The website clearly lists government agencies under its “partners” tab.

Kansas Ag Stress Resources includes a “Family Support” tab that provides resources specific to different family members, including men, women, young adults, the elderly and farmer veterans. It also has tabs labeled mental health, current events and services. The main page of the site lists the Kansas Suicide Prevention Line and the Crisis Text Line.

“This website is intended to be a collaborative effort to support the emotional and financial health challenges for Kansans, especially those involved in agriculture,” Mike Beam, Kansas’ secretary of agriculture, said in a news release. “As more tools are developed and come available, this website will be updated and serve as a hub of current information and resources.”

Olson said that while broadband accessibility was certainly an issue in parts of rural Kansas, “We had to start someplace.” She thinks most Kansas farmers should have access to the internet from their homes or in their towns. She also noted that the website does not have many pictures, which should allow it to load quickly, even in parts of the state without 4G or 5G broadband.

In the press release, Gov. Laura Kelly called the increase in suicide rates among farmers and ranchers “alarming.”

“We must do everything in our power to curb this trend,” she said. “The website provides additional resources and support to individuals and their loved ones. We must provide our farmers and ranchers alternatives to suicide. We must be there for them.”


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