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The Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund

  • Project Title: Save a Shore Farmer
  • Program Representative Interviewed: Ron Pilling, Secretary and Treasurer of the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund
  • Location: Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland
  • Program Overview: The Save a Shore Farmer Campaign launched in 2018 as a project of The Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund. The project began as a response to high rates of suicide for farmers and farm workers both nationally, as reported by the CDC, and locally, as identified in conversations with farmers in the lower Eastern Shore area. The campaign's goal is to increase awareness of the issue of suicide for farmers and their families, and to provide resources. The campaign has posted billboards, run public service announcements on television, and has printed materials for conferences and other events that attract farmers.

    Save a Shore Farmer carefully considered their target population and target audience. The Suicide Prevention Coalition offers many trainings and resources, but founders of the project did not think this was the right approach to use for farmers, with stigma and a lack of anonymity serving as a barrier to attend those types of events. Instead, the campaign attempts to reach people where they are; driving down a highway or watching television, for example. Founders of the project also recognize the large role of family members such as spouses and children in recognizing the signs of suicide. Messages of the campaign reflect this through a focus on how to spot warning signs of suicidal thoughts in a loved one, and how to respond if you think someone is suicidal. The messages provided are also specific to farming culture, recognizing that many farmers are reluctant to seek help for mental illness or stress.

    To get started, the campaign received a grant from the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF). It has also received some funding through the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund. The program also relies on volunteers, but has found it easy to recruit people, as many community members have been personally impacted by suicide. Though the Save a Shore Farmer Campaign is still relatively new, its founders are encouraged by the positive response they have seen so far from the community, and hope the program continues to increase awareness and spark conversations among farmers and their families.

Models represented by this program: