Farmers and others who work in agriculture are used to helping neighbors, clients, family, and friends do chores or make repairs, but they may not know how to help someone having thoughts of suicide. Kelly Klinkhammer, Betsy Jensen, Ron Dversten and Greg Dvergsten, farm business management faculty, attended a safeTALK training sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Minnesota Department of Health on the Thief River Falls campus. With low prices and difficult harvest conditions, FBM faculty anticipate exceptionally high levels of stress in their students. Farming is always risky, and we can never control the weather, but 2019 is proving to be one of the most difficult years in memory.
TALK stands for Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep safe. Instructor Glenn Bloomstrom stressed the “ministry of presence” and simply being there for people. He asked attendees to watch for invitations; small, subtle phrases that people may say when suicidal thoughts are circulating in their heads. Don’t dismiss those invitations. The most difficult part of the training was practicing asking people “Are you thinking of suicide?”
It is estimated that 1 in 20 people are having suicidal thoughts right now, so look around your classroom. One of those students may have a problem they believe can only be solved by suicide. Be alert, and do not hesitate to ask and listen.