• France's news in English
 

French farming hit by a suicide every two days

Published: 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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Réunion's plane debris to be probed in France
Policeman and gendarmes with the piece of unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion. Photo: AFP

Réunion's plane debris to be probed in France

UPDATED: Plane wreckage that washed up on a tiny Indian Ocean island will be sent to France for investigation, as hopes mounted Thursday the mysterious object could unlock the riddle of missing flight MH370. READ  

Migrant dies in botched Eurotunnel crossing
Ten migrants have died at the Calais post in the past two months. Photo: AFP

Migrant dies in botched Eurotunnel crossing

French authorities said on Thursday that a migrant had died from head injuries suffered in a weekend attempt to cross the Channel into England, bringing the number of such deaths to ten since June. READ  

France's Réunion braces for volcano eruption
‘The Peak of the Furnace’ has been spewing out more gases than usual. Photo: Richard Bouhet /AFP

France's Réunion braces for volcano eruption

Le Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world and a main tourist attraction on the Réunion island, was evacuated Thursday as authorities warned of an imminent eruption. READ  

Ten things you didn't know about gay Paris
Do you know where to find penis-shaped bakery goods in Paris? Photo: Legay Choc/Facebook

Ten things you didn't know about gay Paris

There's a lot more to the gay scene in Paris than just the Marais - so we asked the experts at The Gay Locals to come up with a list of ten things you probably didn't know about Gay Paris. READ  

French mayor 'to force artists to mind kids'
The National Front mayor in Fréjus doesn’t feel the town hasn’t received enough in return from the artists. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/ AFP

French mayor 'to force artists to mind kids'

A far-right mayor in the southern town of Fréjus is allegedly considering making a group of local artists mind children in exchange for the rent subsidies they receive. READ  

British press bashes France over Calais crisis
The British press is blaming France for the situation in Calais. Photo: Philippe Huguen/ AFP

British press bashes France over Calais crisis

British tabloids combined two of their favourite themes in covering the Calais migrants controversy Thursday -- French bashing and railing against the government response to illegal immigration. READ  

French nuclear giant Areva to sell unit to EDF
The headquarters of the French nuclear group Areva in La Defense near ParisPhoto: AFP

French nuclear giant Areva to sell unit to EDF

Atomic energy giant Areva on Thursday agreed to sell a majority stake of its nuclear reactor unit to electricity group EDF as part of an awaited reconfiguration of the French sector. READ  

Ex-Sarkozy advisor charged in fraud probe
French former President Nicolas Sarkozy and Patrick Buisson. Photo: AFP

Ex-Sarkozy advisor charged in fraud probe

A one-time advisor to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was charged on Wednesday with abusing his position to profit from state funds, as part of an inquiry into alleged fraud in awarding contracts to opinion polling companies. READ  

French far right wants Le Pen senior gone
Jean-Marie Le Pen. Photo: AFP

French far right wants Le Pen senior gone

An overwhelming 94 percent of France's National Front (FN) members have voted in favour of stripping ex-leader Jean-Marie Le Pen of his title of honorary president, the far-right party announced Wednesday. READ  

France eyes boost to holiday leave rights
People enjoy the sun by the seaside on a beach in the French Mediterranean resort of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France. Photo: AFP

France eyes boost to holiday leave rights

Most new employees at French firms have to work for at least a year before they can take paid holidays but that could be about to change if one group of MPs have their way. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Learn more about the Bayonne festival - France's wildest party
Features
What's on in France: Ten things to do in August
Features
What to see and do at the Paris Plages this summer
Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach
Take a closer look at the 560,000-year-old tooth found in France
National
Swiss army pilfers French water to give to thirsty cows
National
'B**ch' and 'brainless': French shop slurs clients
Travel
French cops rebel over order to give kids sweets
National
New measures to stop migrant deaths in Calais
Travel
Here are some of the most ridiculous comments you'll read about France
Features
Life may be about to get easier for expats settling in France
National
Burning tyres and blocking roads is just the way the French do strikes
National
Muslim tourists visiting French Alps are reminded of burqa ban
Opinion
Slim and chic: Are French women fed up of the stereotypes?
French officials defend handing public beach over to Saudi royals
Society
French kiss: Should expats in France do 'la bise' among themselves?
National
Paris commuters and tourists face summer of travel trouble
This man learnt the entire French vocabulary in nine weeks, but why?
French speed cameras snare tens of thousands of British drivers
Gallery
What kind of expat in France are you: A lover or a loather?
Society
French tweeters reveal the trials and tribulations of #GrowingupFrench
Where to find the best (and worst) quality of life in France
National
Riviera rumpus as Saudi royals grab public beach all for themselves
What we know about France's foiled terror plot
Features
Here are ten places in Paris where you can escape the summer heat
National
Coup d'état fails in France after being snubbed by military
Are shoppers in northern France the most honest in the world?
French woman fined €90 for driving in flip-flops
Cyclists in Paris get the green light to jump red
'Adieu France': Angry mum's parting rant goes viral
Franco-German rift opens over Greece and it could take time to heal
The Megavalanche: The most spectacular cycling event in France
Ex-French PM's daughter creates a buzz by going topless for photo shoot
Could Parisians be bathing in the Seine by 2024?
Paris unveils new mobile app to help non-French speakers
France declares war on public transport sex pests
So where's the best place to live in France if you want to be happy?
Opinion
Paris: The City of Light, Romance, Style and the worst loos in Europe?
National
Eight ways living in France will change your lifestyle for good
International
Why French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Ten ideas that could improve the quality of life in Paris
National
Rules for taking selfies at the Eiffel Tower: No.1 Keep your clothes on
National
Paris's trendy Canal Saint-Martin is now more tip than hip
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

3,605
jobs available