The First Step is Giving Darn: Mental Health on the Farm, With Jeff Ditzenberger and Dr. Josie Rudolphi

In honor of Mental Health Month, we talk with a former grower who uses his past struggles with suicide to help others today.

The suicide rate among farmers is three and a half times higher than the general population. It’s a shocking statistic.

We’re losing good people, but we don’t have to.

From weather to markets, to prices, to the issues that come with a family business, farmers face a number of stressors that are unique to their occupation. And in rural America, suicide rates increased 46% from 2000-2020, compared to 27.3% in metro areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So one of the National Corn Growers Association action teams is working with partners across the industry to spread the message that saying something could mean everything. In this episode, two of those partners share their stories and their expertise.

Jeff Ditzenberger is a former grower from southern Wisconsin who uses his past struggles with suicide to help other people today. He travels around the country delivering his outspoken message that, “It’s okay to not be okay.”

And Dr. Josie Rudolphi is an Associate Professor in the University of Illinois School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering with expertise in not only mental health, but its specific impacts in agricultural populations.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please share one of these important resources we discuss in this episode:

  • 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • 1-800-447-1985, The Iowa Concern Hotline, a resource serving the agricultural community nationwide 
  •, a central clearinghouse for mental health and financial resources for American farmers
  •, Jeff Ditzenberger’s Wisconsin-based support group

To listen to NCGA’s latest podcast episode, CLICK HERE.

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