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Illinois farm wife and behavioral health consultant Adrienne DeSutter says farmers can help each other by paying attention to each other.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

January 24, 2020

1 Min Read
Adrienne DeSutter at podium
HEALTHY: “More than just statistics, these are people we know. Any loss, any amount of stress, bleeds out to the community,” says Adrienne DeSutter.

What’s the best thing one farmer can do for another? Pay attention. Notice if someone’s behavior has changed. And don’t ignore your gut if it tells you to be concerned — because the people who need help the most are often the least likely to reach out.

“The last thing we want to do is wait until a funeral or visitation to think about what we could have done,” says Adrienne DeSutter, a behavioral health consultant who is married to Woodhull, Ill., farmer Drew DeSutter.

Here’s what to look for:

  • changes in a person’s typical behavior

  • eating or sleeping habits that change

  • decline in care of self, or farm, or livestock

  • sudden weight loss or gain

  • feeling trapped, hopeless or worthless

  • feeling like a burden

  • expressing unbearable pain

  • aggression or irritability

  • fatigue

  • withdrawal or isolation from friends and family

  • saying goodbye or giving away prized possessions

Here’s how to talk to them:

  • Point out things you’ve noticed. (“Haven’t seen you at church/card club/coffee.”)

  • Just want to see if everything’s OK.

  • Make sure you’re genuine; show empathy.

  • Listen to hear, don’t listen to respond.

  • Validate their concerns.

  • Provide resources.


Related:Why's it all so hard?

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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