Farmer Suicides: A Ten-Year Analysis in Three States

The primary aim of this project was to examine the descriptive epidemiology of farmer suicides in the southeastern states of Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Computerized death certificate data were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for the years 1990-1998 for the states of Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Variables available from the NCHS files for the analysis included age, race, gender, county of death, marital status, usual occupation, cause of death, date of death, state of residence, and place of death. While not every state codes for the usual occupation/industry for the deceased, the three states in this study code for this necessary field in order to identify farm operators, managers, and workers (collectively referenced as “farmers” in this report). The study found increased risk of suicide mortality among white male farmers in comparison to the total white male population in these three southeastern states. Male farmers in the 75-84 age group were twice as likely to die from suicide in comparison to the total white male population, and male farmers age 85 years and older were four times more likely to die from suicide. This study underscored the importance of examining temporal and regional trends in farmer suicides, and suggested that prevention programs need to be directed toward older farmers, who consistently have higher suicide mortality rates than similar males in other occupations.

Click here for more information or contact Steven R. Browning, PhD Assistant Professor of Epidemiology University of Kentucky College of Public Health Room 209-B 115 Washington Street Lexington, KY 40536-0003/full report (pdf format)