Farmers using Pesticides linked to High Rates of Depression, Suicides

Pesticides applied by farmers and their workers may alter brain chemicals

image of pesticides spraying
Research suggests that pesticides applied by farmers and their workers may alter brain chemicals.

” 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. “…

…continue reading: Pesticide use by farmers linked to high rates of depression, suicides, by Brian Bienkowski on Environmental Health News, October 6, 2014.

More information:

  • Pesticide Exposure and Depression among Male Private Pesticide Applicators in the Agricultural Health Study,
    EHP, September 2014.
  • Association between pesticide exposure and suicide rates in Brazil, ScienceDirect, May 2014.
  • Trends and characteristics of occupational suicide and homicide in farmers and agriculture workers, 1992-2010, IRO, 2014.
  • Pesticide Exposure and Depression Among Agricultural Workers in France, AJE, Sept 2013.
  • Depression and pesticide exposures among private pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study, NCBI, Sept 2008.
  • A cohort study of pesticide poisoning and depression in Colorado farm residents,
    NCBI, Aug 2008.
  • Pesticide exposure and suicidal ideation in rural communities in Zhejiang province, China, WHO, April 2008.

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