Darla Tyler McSherry is the director of student health services at Montana State University Billings. She is trained to spot depression and suicide. But in her own father, she never saw what was coming.
He took his own life on the very farm where he was born and raised. Afterward, his daughter struggled with guilt. She’s now determined to take her family’s anguish and use it for good by advocating on behalf of other farmers who may be in crisis.
Her motivation is to honor his memory — and because she knows that her family isn’t alone.
The suicide rate in rural America is 45% greater than in large urban areas, according to a study released last fall by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
. A more recent CDC report said Montana’s suicide rate leads the nation
, coming in at nearly twice the national average. A third long-touted CDC study, currently under review
, listed farming in the occupational group, along with fishing and forestry, with the highest rate of suicide deaths.
That occupational study
was based on 2012 data, when farming was strong and approaching its peak in 2013, says Jennifer Fahy, communications director for the nonprofit Farm Aid
. Farmers’ net income has fallen 50% since 2013 and is expected to drop to a 12-year low this year, the US Department of Agriculture reports
Darla will be taking your calls and texts on the subject.