• France edition
 
French farming hit by a suicide every two days
French cattle farmers protest in Paris at the high costs of rearing farm animals. Financial strife is said to be the main reason for the high suicide rate among farmers. Photo Miguel Medina/AFP

French farming hit by a suicide every two days

Published: 10 Oct 2013 16:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Oct 2013 16:55 GMT+02:00

In France, a farmer commits suicide every two days. That’s the shocking statistic quoted in a new report released on Thursday, which will set alarm bells ringing in France’s Ministry of Agriculture, which is struggling to revitalize the flagging sector.

Suicide is the third-highest cause of death among French farmers, after cancer and cardio-vascular diseases, a report by the French health institute INVS revealed on Thursday.

In a three year period between 2007 and 2009, 485 farmers took their own lives, which represents a suicide every two days on average. The rate of suicides among farmers is 20 percent higher than among the French population as a whole.

In total, 417 men and 68 women ended their lives during this period, with the mortality rate highest among cattle farmers aged between 45 and 64-years-old.

The INVS study represents the first ever official investigation into the sensitive issue and sheds light on the vulnerability of those working in the beleaguered farming sector in France.

"These figures are shocking," Jean-Bernard Bayard, Vice President of the main French farmer's union FNSEA told The Local on Thursday. "We knew there was a high number of suicides but this study makes it clear how bad the problem has become."

The report even chose to look at the method of suicides, and found that most victims killed themselves by hanging. Male farmers were more likely to turn a gun on themselves, whereas, of the woman who committed suicide, many drowned themselves.

In another statistic that will concern France’s agricultural chiefs, the number of suicides among farmers stands at 35.9 per 100,000, meaning it is the sector in France most affected by the phenomenon. According to Europe1 radio, for factory workers in France the suicide rate stands at 31,8 pour 100.000, for policeman it is 32 out of 100,000,  for doctors it stands at 31 and for the general population it is 16 per 100,000. 

In 2008, during the milk crisis in France an INVS study found the risk of suicide among farmers was 47 percent higher than for the average population.

France’s agriculture industry has been hit hard in recent years with many farmers, particularly those raising cattle, struggling to survive as costs rise and profits fall.

Earlier this month, President François Hollande vowed to come to their aid by promising to use a renegotiation of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy to favour livestock farmers.

"To leave breeders in the situation they are in, with lower incomes than the rest of the profession, but with higher risks and tighter constraints, would be to weaken French agriculture as a whole," the president said.

SEE ALSO: French teacher slams education system in suicide note

For French farmers' unions, there were many factors at play, but one stood out above the others.

"We cannot deny that this trend has coincided with difficulties in the industry, especially for cattle and sheep farmers. There are many pressures on the industry and they are becoming greater all the time," FNSEA's Bayard said.

"This report needs to be heeded by the government but also by French society as a whole."

The INVS were also under no doubt that French farmers' struggle to stay afloat financially, was the chief cause of the high suicide rate.

“These acts coincide with the onset of financial problems in this sector over the period studied," said their report.

For Marie-Thérèse Denieul from the Mutualité Sociale Agricole said there were other reasons at play as well as financial difficulties.

“There are three main reasons,” she told Le Figaro. “Social isolation is the most common, then the economic crisis, followed by a proliferation of controls and administrative procedures.”

For his part France’s Minister for Agriculture has vowed to eradicate the worrying trend.

Stéphane Le Foll said he was “aware that the financial difficulties can cause stress” and he promised to “push through specific initiative” aimed at boosting incomes of French farmers.

A further study is to be carried out to see if the suicide trend continued into 2010 and 2011.

The high suicide rate among farmers is simply part of an alarming trend in France, where the rate of people taking their own lives is well above the European average and twice that of the UK and Spain.

Everyday in France an average of 21 men and eight women take their own lives and around 700 attempt it.

Last month The Local spoke to Jean-Claude Delgenes, the director of Technologia, a company which works with highlighting safety concerns for workers. He explained that France's high suicide rate has its origins in history. Click below to read his explanation.

Why does France have such a high suicide rate?

Don't miss a story about France - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande
French President Francois Hollande pictured on April 20th 2014. AFP Photo: Thomas Samson

Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande

France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday. READ () »

PSG on course for double after cup triumph
PSG's galaxy of stars celebrate their French League Cup win over Lyon. AFP Photo/Franck Fife

PSG on course for double after cup triumph

Paris Saint-Germain won France's League Cup on Saturday, beating Lyon 2-1 in the final at the Stade de France to secure the first leg of a likely domestic double. READ () »

Freed journalists back on French soil
Francois Hollande welcomes French journalists Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres at the Villacoublay air base southwest of Paris. AFP Photo/Thomas Samson

Freed journalists back on French soil

Four French journalists taken hostage in Syria arrived home on Sunday to an emotional reunion with family and colleagues after spending 10 months in captivity in the world's most dangerous country for the media. READ () »

French reporters held captive in Syria set free
Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Pierre Torres and Nicolas Henin. AFP Photo / Chris Huby/ Haytham Pictures/ Torres Family / Benoit Schaeffer

French reporters held captive in Syria set free

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP, saying they would be back in France within hours. READ () »

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown
Europe-wide search for missing French girl ends in her hometown. Photo: AFP

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown

A Europe-wide hunt for a missing 15-year-old French girl ended in her hometown on Friday where she was located with a 48-year-old family friend who was suspected of abducting her. Police believed the friend was suicidal. READ () »

French MP proposes puppy custody law
A French lawmaker wants puppies looked after in case of a divorce. Photo: Robbee/Flickr

French MP proposes puppy custody law

Who gets custody of a dog after a divorce? A French lawmaker has proposed a bill to create a legal framework to answer precisely that and other tricky questions surrounding pets. READ () »

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se