• 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
'Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc'
Brigitte Bardot thinks Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc. Photo: Wikicommons/AFP

'Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc'

In a new interview one-time French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot has likened the head of France’s anti-immigration National Front party to the iconic French historical figure of Joan of Arc. READ  

France armed Syrian rebels 'months ago'
Freance says it armed Syrian rebels "months ago". Photo: AFP

France armed Syrian rebels 'months ago'

France supplied arms to rebels fighting the government in Syria "months ago", French President François Hollande said on Thursday. READ  

France's mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis
In future France may be forced to import more and more mussels to satisfy demand. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/flickr

France's mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis

In future “les moules” you eat in France may longer be homegrown after mussel producers in the west of the country have reported an "unprecedented" crisis due to poor harvests. They are demanding the state hand out emergency aid. READ  

Fruit and veg prices tumble in France
Nice weather has caused Fruit and veg prices to drop in France. Photo: David Flores/Flickr

Fruit and veg prices tumble in France

Good weather and weak demand have sent fruit and vegetable prices tumbling in France this summer. However, one of France’s favorite edibles is poised to spike in cost. READ  

Camel bites baby's head at circus in France
A circus camel in France has left a baby with "multiple fractures" after it bit him on the head. Photo: Toni Paya/Flickr

Camel bites baby's head at circus in France

A four-month-old baby boy is in hospital after a circus camel bit his head leaving him with multiple fractures, French police said on Thursday. The incident comes just weeks after a lion wounded a toddler at another French circus. READ  

VIDEO: New horror movie set in Paris catacombs
A new horror flick takes place in Paris's catacombs. Photo: Screengrab/Youtube

VIDEO: New horror movie set in Paris catacombs

The Paris catacombs, known to its fans as the "kingdom of the dead", has provided the setting for a brand new horror flick that hit cinemas in France this week. Check out the trailer, though it may make you hesitate about heading below ground ever again. READ  

JobTalk France - 'Best place to work'
South west France voted 'best place to work'
Bordeaux is the favoured place of French people when it comes to work. Photo: Shutterstock

South west France voted 'best place to work'

While most expats may dream of living and working in Paris or on the Riviera, the French on the other hand believe the cities of the south west are the ideal place to work, especially Bordeaux. READ  

Australian, 70, breaks record for Channel swim
Cyril Baldock, who has become the oldest person to swim the Channel. Photo: Twitter/Age Concern

Australian, 70, breaks record for Channel swim

A 70-year-old Australian grandfather has become the oldest person to swim the English Channel. Cyril Baldock swam the 34 km from England to France in 12 hours 45 minutes and celebrated his feat with a couple of beers. READ  

French villagers come to aid of British couple
Retired British citizens Faith Dyson (R) and husband John Dyson pose in their house in Brugairolles. Photo: Remy Gabalda/AFP

French villagers come to aid of British couple

Residents in a French village have united behind an elderly British couple after their dream of a quiet retirement in southern France turned into a nightmare when their neighbours - also from the UK - walled them into their home. READ  

France pushes Middle East to fight Isis fighters
France has called on Middle East nations to battle Islamic State fighters. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP

France pushes Middle East to fight Isis fighters

France urged Middle East nations to take a stand against the Islamic State fighters operating nearly unchecked in Syria and Iraq. The French president also plans to set up an international summit to craft a response to the extremists. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Gallery
Don't make a faux pas! Ten things not to do when working in France
Health
Ebola: What is the risk of it coming to France?
Health
Are the French really a nation of smokers?
Culture
Frightened by the prospect of long French dinners? You're not alone
National
'Stay in Paris in August? You'd have to be crazy'
International
Calais migrant crisis: 'People will be killed if nothing is done'
Culture
Paris is closed for August, but will it always be like that?
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