• 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

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
LIVE: Pro-Palestinians demonstrate in Paris
Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Paris to oppose Israel's Gaza incursion. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

LIVE: Pro-Palestinians demonstrate in Paris

A pro-Palestinian march is taking place in Paris on Wednesday evening amid tight security after violence marred previous protests. The Local France is tweeting live from the scene. READ  

Lawmakers back redrawn map of France
French lawmakers have approved a redrawn map of France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Lawmakers back redrawn map of France

Legislation that would redraw the map of France won overwhelming support on Wednesday from the country's lower house, the National Assembly. It's part of a plan reduce France's costly and cumbersome bureaucracy. READ  

Paris: Security beefed up for pro-Palestinian demo
Riot police will be out in force on Wednesday for the pro-Palestinian protest. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

Paris: Security beefed up for pro-Palestinian demo

Police chiefs in Paris are taking no chances on Wednesday with the latest pro-Palestinian rally taking place in the city. Hundreds of police are on duty to keep the peace. The Local will be tweeting live from the demo. READ  

Tête-à-tête - Part 1
'Foreigners in France should not get the vote'
Should foreigners be able to vote in France's local elections? Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

'Foreigners in France should not get the vote'

France's president reignited an age-old row recently when he vowed to fight to give foreigners the vote in France. In the first part of our tête-a-tête we hear from a French mayor; who says France would be abandoning part of its sovereignty if foreigners were able to cast ballots. READ  

'Disastrous' economy claim riles Hollande
French business leader Pierre Gattaz's glare at the French president tells a story. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

'Disastrous' economy claim riles Hollande

French president François Hollande has taken umbrage after the leading voice of France’s business community described the country’s economy as “disastrous” this week and called for an end to the flagship 35-hour week and 75 percent tax rate. READ  

Tour de France stage 17: Pole Rafal Majka wins
Stage 17 of the Tour de France will see some tought climbs for the riders. Photo: Screengrab LeTour.fr

Tour de France stage 17: Pole Rafal Majka wins

Stage 17 of the 2014 Tour de France was won by Rafal Majka on Wednesday after 124.5km punishing ride through the Pyrenees. Yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali extended his lead over his rivals. READ  

Immigration system
French test plan for long-term visa applicants
Anyone seeking a long-term visa in France in future will have to swat up on their French. Photo: Tim Green/Flickr

French test plan for long-term visa applicants

New legislation unveiled on Wednesday aims to shrink the bureaucratic hurdles foreigners who want to stay in France face and provide a glimmer of hope for asylum seekers languishing in limbo. But anyone wanting to get a ten-year visa would need to be able to read French. READ  

EU says Ryanair owes France €9.6 million
Ryanair has been ordered to refund millions in subsidies to local French authorities. Photo: Paolo Margari/Flickr

EU says Ryanair owes France €9.6 million

Low-cost airline Ryanair received nearly €10 million in illegal government aid and now must pay the money back, the European Commission said on Wednesday. It's another costly blow for Ryanair after a French court ordered it to stump up €9million in damages last year. READ  

VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto moving Paris metro
A Paris stuntman's video of him jumping onto a moving train has gone global. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube

VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto moving Paris metro

A video featuring a thrill-seeking acrobat named “Mister Puma” risking his life by jumping onto the roof of a moving metro train in Paris has proved a global hit. But it's just his latest crazy feat on the Metro. Watch some his death-defying stunts here. READ  

French court rules no halal meals in prison
A French prison will not be forced to serve up halal meals after all. Photo: John Moore/AFP

French court rules no halal meals in prison

A controversial ruling that ordered a French prison to serve up halal meals to inmates was overturned by a court in Lyon this week in the latest issue to pit the country's secular tradition against Islamic practice. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
IN IMAGES: Two Paris anti-Israel demos descend into violence
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Travel
Sun's up: Temperatures in parts of France could hit 40°C
National
Monkey slur lands ex-National Front member with hefty jail sentence
National
VIDEO: Jewish 'ultras' and anti-Israel mob in running street battle in Paris
International
Middle East crisis: 'Jews in France are stand-ins for Israeli targets'
Culture
IN PICTURES: Bastille Day fireworks mark centenary of the 'Great War'
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'I've never seen scenes like it' - Tour de France winner on the UK crowds
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Travel
Ten essential free phone apps for a visit to Paris
Gallery
Like cycling? Love France? See the top ten best cycling routes in France
International
'They think beer is a vegetable': What the French really think of Germans
National
Sarkozy's dream of a 2017 comeback is not dead yet
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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