Why Are So Many French Farmers Taking Their Own Lives?
In an age of globalized agriculture, suicides have spiked among small farmers who are drowning in debt. Survivors speak out about what’s pushing so many to the brink.
Photos by Jonathan Alpeyrie
Louis Ganay sits on his knees, alone in a massive farm building, holding a noose in one hand and looking up toward the high beam above him. It is late afternoon in February 2015 and Ganay, 35 years old, is holed up in the small cattle farm he runs near the village of Languidic in northwestern France. He is crying, wondering how things could have gone so wrong that he is ready to end his life. Already heavily in debt, just a few hours earlier the bank denied him another loan that could have kept his forty-cow operation afloat. Ganay thinks about his wife, who he called just a while ago to tell her what he is about to do. He thinks about the cows that he lovingly tends to each day. He considers the nation he feels has abandoned him. He places the noose around his neck and tightens it, ready to leave all of that behind.
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