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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pesticide use linked to high rates of depression and suicides among farmers

© Ginnie Peters
Matt Peters, a fourth-generation farmer in Dallas
County, Iowa, took his own life in May 2011. The Peters
family lives on this farm surrounded by 1,500 acres of fields.
SOTT | Oct 6, 2014 | Brian Bienkowski

On his farm in Iowa, Matt Peters worked from dawn to dusk planting his 1,500 acres of fields with pesticide-treated seeds. "Every spring I worried about him," said his wife, Ginnie. "Every spring I was glad when we were done."

In the spring of 2011, Ginnie Peters' "calm, rational, loving" husband suddenly became depressed and agitated. "He told me 'I feel paralyzed'," she said. "He couldn't sleep or think. Out of nowhere he was depressed."

A clinical psychologist spoke to him on the phone and urged him to get medical help. "He said he had work to do, and I told him if it's too wet in the morning to plant beans come see me," Mike Rossman said. "And the next day I got the call."

Peters took his own life. He was 55 years old.

No one knows what triggered Peters' sudden shift in mood and behavior. But since her husband's death, Ginnie Peters has been on a mission to not only raise suicide awareness in farm families but also draw attention to the growing evidence that pesticides may alter farmers' mental health.

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