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Agriculture Dept. Aims To Bolster Suicide Prevention Among Farm Workers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A recent initiative by the the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is aiming to bolster suicide prevention efforts for farmers and agricultural workers.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture announced Friday a series of trainings called safeTALK, which will take place throughout the state starting next week. These trainings will discuss how to recognize and help someone at risk of suicide. The trainings will target both farmers and other community members, including social workers, educators and business people.

According to a Minnesota Department of Agriculture press release, this training can recognize risk in those as young as 15.

"Unfortunately, farming communities experience more than their share of suicide," said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen in a statement. "We want people to know what they can do to help when they see warning signs."

Farmer suicide was a major issue during last legislative session at the Minnesota Capitol. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's director of mental health outreach Ted Mathews testified in March about a lack of mental health resources for farmers.

In the state's most recent biennial budget, the Legislature approved $468,000 in funding to expand the state's rural mental health programs, including the creation of a crisis hotline over the next four years. The budget also establishes funding for one additional mental health adviser for farmers.

The safeTALK trainings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

Oct. 10: Thief River Falls (Northland Community and Technical College)
Oct. 11: Moorhead (Minnesota State Community and Technical College - Moorhead)
Nov. 20: Faribault (South Central College)
Nov. 21: Austin (Riverland Community College)
Dec. 3: Marshall (MERIT Center)
Dec. 4: Waite Park (Quarry Center)

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