Sask. farm stress line calls up 74% over same time last year

A dry spring and a difficult harvest in Saskatchewan are being blamed for a significant year-over-year increase in calls to the Farm Stress Line.

Regina-based Mobile Crisis Services says it received 447 calls from April to September

A farmer near Wolseley, Sask. holds crop that was damaged this fall by mildew from poor weather conditions. (Trent Peppler/CBC )

Saskatchewan's farm stress line got 74 per cent more calls from April to September than the same period last year, according to the organization that runs the service.

Regina-based Mobile Crisis Services said it received 447 calls during those months this year, compared to 257 calls over the same quarter in 2018. From July to September alone, there were 225 calls received, up from 141 over the same months last year — a 60 per cent increase.

John McFadyen, the organization's executive director, said he expected an increase given the dry start to the growing season and the resulting difficult harvest.

He said the most significant issue for callers to the stress line has been cash flow and bankruptcy.

"They're worried about if they're going to be able to meet their loans, have enough cash flow for next season," he said.

Suicide ideation

McFadyen said difficult financial situations created anxiety and stress for callers and their families.

"In the second quarter, we had eight calls where it was individuals with suicide ideation," he said. "The stress was that significant."

He said staff who received those calls had to assess whether there was an immediate suicide risk or if it was something that they were "thinking about."

McFadyen said none of the eight individuals were deemed to be in the high-risk category, "where they had a plan in place and they were thinking about moving ahead with a plan."

He said in situations where there wasn't an immediate suicide risk, staff would ask if the caller has had those feelings before, assess what their support system is and then work with them on a plan to move forward.

For callers who bring up other issues, he said staff would ask what supports they have and whether they've been talking with their spouse about how they are feeling.

He said staff will often give the callers ideas for managing their financial situation, including connecting them with a credit counselling society.

McFadyen said the most significant thing is the growing awareness of the help that's available.

"For me, what stands out is the increasing calls," he said. "The willingness of people to reach out and to address their problems and look at support. What they can do to change their situation."

In Saskatchewan, farmers or farm families who want to reach out for help can contact the Farm Stress Line at 1-800-667-4442.

If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, there is help out there.

For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911.

You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566, the Regina Mobile Crisis Services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.

About the Author

Kelly Provost is a newsreader and reporter with CBC News in Saskatoon. Email him at


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