• 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
Julie Gayet wins privacy suit against Closer
Actress Julie Gayet, who had an affair with Hollande, won her privacy suit against Closer magazine on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Julie Gayet wins privacy suit against Closer

A French court has fined two tabloid magazine executives and a photographer over a photo of Julie Gayet, who became the subject of media hounding after her affair when President François Hollande was revealed in January. READ  

Woman killed by TGV train as she chases dog
A French woman was killed by a train as she chased her dog. Photo: TGV.

Woman killed by TGV train as she chases dog

A woman was struck and killed by a high-speed TGV train in France this week when she ran out onto the tracks to try to catch her escaped dog. It's the latest in a series of tragic accidents that have seen people killed by the trains. READ  

Valls vs Blair
Is Manuel Valls really a French Tony Blair?
Spot the difference. Or maybe there isn't any between Manuel Valls and Tony Blair? Photo: AFP

Is Manuel Valls really a French Tony Blair?

Is the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls really a Gallic Tony Blair? With the help of a political expert we taker a closer look to see if the oft-made comparison is fair or false. READ  

Trierweiler's new book 'won't spare' Hollande
Valerie Trierweiler has a potentially brutal book coming out on her time with President François Hollande. Photo: AFP

Trierweiler's new book 'won't spare' Hollande

A potentially explosive new memoir is due out this week from Valerie Trierwieler, France's ex-"first lady" who was dumped by the president for his mistress. The book apparently does little "spare" François Hollande. READ  

France vows to get tough on job seekers
France orders crackdown on job seekers after it emerged tens of thousands of positions have been left unfilled. Photo:AFP

France vows to get tough on job seekers

The French labour minister has ordered a crackdown to root out those abusing unemployment benefits, after it emerged that hundreds of thousands of available jobs remain unfilled in France. READ  

Sarkozy's big return: Carla Bruni 'says non!'
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy does not want her husband to return to politics, according to reports. Photo: AFP

Sarkozy's big return: Carla Bruni 'says non!'

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy faces a few obstacles before he can fulfill his dream of becoming head of state once again - not least his numerous legal tangles. But it appears the biggest hurdle of all could be his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. READ  

Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule
Brits may soon get the right vote in the UK for the rest of their lives. Photo: Hagwall/Flickr

Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule

The Conservative party in the UK has made a bid to woo expat voters by pledging to end the controversial “15-year rule” that prevents millions of Brits abroad from being able to vote. READ  

Most French admit they 'don't know about wine'
Most French people know nothing about wine, a new survey has revealed. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Most French admit they 'don't know about wine'

It may be the country’s most famous product but more than two thirds of French people admit they know nothing about wine, according to a new poll. READ  

France bans Muslim worker from nuclear sites
Tricastin nuclear plant in France, one of the many sites a Muslim engineer has been barred from over his jihadist links. Photo: Shutterstock

France bans Muslim worker from nuclear sites

A Muslim engineer has been barred from entering France's nuclear sites due to his links with jihadist networks, after a court upheld the ban this week. His lawyer claims the man is a victim of Islamophobia. READ  

Top Gear to launch new French version of show
Hit British car series 'Top Gear' is coming to France. Photo: Ana Poenariu/AFP

Top Gear to launch new French version of show

France is going to get its own version of legendary British auto series Top Gear with the show set to hit the TV screens by next year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
National
Unemployment: How does France compare to Europe?
International
Are all the talented professionals really leaving France?
National
La France profonde: Is it a rural idyll or a backwater hell?
Travel
Check out the four new attractions coming to Paris this autumn
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
International
VIDEO: Watch the top five street scams to avoid in Paris
Politics
Take a look at the bulging to-do list that awaits France's new government
Politics
Six questions for France after Hollande ousts rebels
International
Choosing schools in France: Do you go international or French?
Gallery
From kissing to bad-mouthing: Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
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'
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