Lecture by Lizzy van Leeuwen
Probably Dutch farmers commit suicide relatively often. ‘Probably’, because farmers are no separate category in Dutch suicide-statistics. Cultural anthropologist and writer Lizzy van Leeuwen recently published a study on ‘suicide in the countryside’, called ‘De hanenbalken’ (‘The Collar Beams’). In this lecture she builds the case that Dutch farmers commit suicide more often than other Dutch citizens. She gives possible explanations of this phenomenon, and of the reasons why it is not systematically studied.
The Dutch farmers are in a difficult position. Although their land and house might be worth a lot of money, they have to work many hours to make an often low income. An income which varies substantially from year to year, due to external circumstances. Not the least of these circumstances are the changing rules they are submitted to, despite being ‘free entrepreneurs’. So nowadays many Dutch farmers depend on the income of their spouse to make ends meets. A special problem is the succession, as agriculture steadily becomes less attractive for younger generations.
In this series we explore the consequences of this difficult position for the individual farmer and his or her family.
Series organized in cooperation with De Boerengroep