A tweet from a farmer in central Saskatchewan has prompted a conversation about suicide in the agriculture community.
Kim Keller, who farms near Gronlin and is a co-founder of Saskatchewan Women in Ag, posted over the weekend urging farmers to do more about the issue.
#Ag we gotta do more.
I rcv'd a msg yesterday that kept me up thinking of how we do more. Farm stress is real. Suicide is real. 1/
— Kim Keller (@kimkkeller) June 24, 2017
She told Gormley on Wednesday she felt compelled to speak out after being contacted by someone looking to help the family of a farmer who had taken his life.
Keller said she’s had a lot of response to the tweet, including people opening up about their own experiences.
“It’s been really surprising,” she said “And also to see the support they received from everyone. When they were expecting to get judged or maybe ridiculed, they actually got a lot of support which I think shows a real major shift happening in our (agriculture) industry today.”
Keller noted despite more education around mental health in the workplace, it’s still something not discussed openly in agriculture.
“I know it affects every industry out there, but I think it’s really amplified in agriculture when so much of our livelihood is out of our control.”‘
Premier Brad Wall was one of the people who responded to Keller’s tweet.
Keller said Wall wants to keep the conversation going and has asked her to meet with the Ministry of Agriculture to see what else can be done.
Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) president Todd Lewis agreed the conversation is long overdue and said the mental health of the province’s young producers is of particular concern.
Lewis adds that APAS is working to incorporate the issue into its upcoming midterm meeting, and will be looking at addressing the gaps in policy and supports available.
Keller said in addition to dialogue, there needs to be encouragement for people to come forward and support those who do.
“On my end, I’m going to do everything I can to keep pushing this forward, so we can have real change happen and I don’t have to have another message where someone has taken their life.
– With files from Gormley