Farmers Turn Cornfield Into a Suicide Prevention Message

By Paula Liu

A farmer in Wisconsin turned his cornfield maze into a billboard for suicide prevention, according to CNN.

The cornfield maze has been something of a tradition for the owners of the Govin farms for more than a decade. Every year, the owners of the farm, John and Julie Govin, would convert their cornfield maze into a theme or message that was important to them, CNN reported.

This year, the Govins wanted to make an impact on society by using the theme of suicide prevention as the basis of the cornfield maze.

This year the maze highlighted the message, “your life matters.” Also, carved into the cornfield was The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number, according to the news outlet.

“We have always picked a theme that has meaning to our family, and this year suicide was something we, unfortunately, had to face and learn about,” Govin’s Meat and Berry Farm wrote on Facebook. “We hope to make a difference in someone’s life and help them understand that they matter!”

A family member had died by suicide at the beginning of the year, according to USA Today.

“We came up with the idea in January, but we thought about it for a long, long time because it’s a pretty bold statement,” said Govin in an interview with USA Today. Govin told CNN that they had thought of the idea on the way to the funeral. But they were worried that the concept might not sit well with people and that the powerful theme might well drive people away from the farm instead.

John Gobin said making a choice was hard, especially as the cornfield maze is a significant source of income for the family. Also, the message would have an enormous impact on the family.

“Those of us who operate farm festivals and do corn mazes, it’s supposed to be a fun time of year. Everyone said, ‘if it’s important to you, go ahead and do it.'”

Equipped with the approval of the people around them, they went ahead with the idea.

The cornfield maze this year doesn’t open until Sept. 21. Even so according to CNN, Govin said the family has already received a considerable positive response from other people, both online and in real life. He told CNN that he wasn’t even sure what to expect from using this theme.

He told the news outlet that people were going to and fro his wife’s office with words of appreciation and thanking her for what she was spreading.

“My wife was at work yesterday, and she said she couldn’t get anything done … people were constantly coming into her office to thank her or to relate a story that they have. It’s truly remarkable,” John Govin said.

John Govin said that they planned to donate some of the income from the cornfield maze to several suicide prevention groups, according to CNN.

Govin said this theme was much bigger than just merely trying to get people to come to the farm, in an interview with WQOW.

“Everybody is somebody’s most important person,” Govin said. “If we can make a difference if we save a life this fall … that’s worth it.”

Suicide Statistics and Prevention

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and 47,173 Americans died by suicide in 2017, while 1.3 million people attempted suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the report Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates on June 8, 2018, revealing that suicide rates have increased by 30 percent since 1999. However, the report points out that there are a variety of factors other than mental health conditions that lead to suicide.

“Suicide rates increased significantly across most states during 1999–2016. Various circumstances contributed to suicides among persons with and without known mental health conditions,” the report stated.

If you or someone you know is showing signs that they might be suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 800-273-TALK. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.