The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4040.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 9:10 AM

Abstract #45144

Losing Wisconsin dairy farmers to suicide

Laurie Woods, MS1, Evelyn M. Kuhn, PhD2, Carrie L. Nie, MPH2, and Stephen W. Hargarten, MD, MPH2. (1) Department of Emergency Medicine, Firearm Injury Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, 9200 W. Wisconsin Ave, FMLH - East, Milwaukee, WI 53226, 414-805-6526,, (2) Firearm Injury Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, 9200 West Wisconsin Avenue, Froedtert East Clinic, Milwaukee, WI 53226

Background: Farmers have been reported to have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Wisconsinís dairy farmers have more debt than non-dairy farmers and between 1999-2000, experienced a significant income loss related to low milk prices. Previous studies show that the percentage of firearm-owning farm households exceeds metro and non-metro Wisconsin households.

Objective: to depict the problem of suicide among Wisconsin farmers.

Methods: Data from the Violent Injury Reporting System of Wisconsin and literature concerning Wisconsinís farm industry, farmer suicide, and firearm access were reviewed.

Results: Between 1999-2000 in Wisconsin, at least 25 farmers committed suicide. Wisconsinís farmer suicide rate (18.2/100,000) was higher than overall rural (11.4) and Wisconsin statewide (11.3). In 2000, 12 of 14 farmer victims were dairy farmers although only 27% of farms are dairy. The dairy farmer suicide rate (57.1) was 16 times that of non-dairy farmers (3.6) and higher than Wisconsinís black male homicide rate (51.1). Firearms were used in 52% of Wisconsin suicides and 79% of farmer suicides. Of firearm suicide victims, farmers used long guns more often than rural and urban victims and were significantly older and more likely to have a physical illness than rural victims. 45% of farmers, 29% of rural and 27% of statewide firearm suicide victims had job/income problems.

Conclusions: Increased suicide risk among Wisconsin farmers, particularly dairy farmers, may be related to farming policies, physical illness, financial problems and access to firearms. Further work should consider firearm trace information and victimsí indebtedness compared to average farm debt.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Rural Populations, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

National Violent Death Reporting System: A Progress Report

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA