Lifestyle & Human Interest

Farm Owners Turn Corn Maze into Suicide Prevention Billboard After Family Tragedy


What are your family’s quintessential autumn activities? Going to a pumpkin patch? Grabbing a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks? Wearing flannel every day and appeasing your inner lumberjack?

Maybe it’s going to a corn maze with your family. The creative designs and complicated paths have drawn families since 1993, but one Wisconsin family farm recently revealed the design for its corn maze this upcoming fall that has a deeper meaning.

Govin’s Farm, which has been owned by John and Julie Govin for 30 years, operates a strawberry field during the summer, but during the fall it opens an 11-acre corn maze and a three-acre pumpkin patch.

According to WQOW, the farm — which is only an hour away from Minneapolis, Minnesota — has become an annual tradition for local families.

The maze has featured several different designs over the past 11 years including NFL’s Green Bay Packers, 4-H, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

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The design for 2019, however, hits a little closer to home.

In January, one of John’s family members died by suicide. As they began to think about the design idea for the fall corn maze, he and his wife knew that they wanted to take an opportunity to help others who may also be struggling with suicidal thoughts.

John told The Western Journal that the sudden death in his family made him realize just how much suicide affects the family members.

“It was always someone else’s family that you have sympathy for them, but it really hits home when you’re directly involved in it,” John said. “That’s when you realize how hard this is.”

“When somebody commits suicide, they think it’s going to end their pain but all it does is transfer their pain to everyone that’s left.”

The maze, which opens on Sept. 21, 2019, features the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number with an encouraging message: “Your life matters.”

A Wisconsin family farm is using their fall corn maze to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts after their own family tragedy. (Courtesy of Govin’s Farm)

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7 hotline that provides support for individuals who are in a suicidal crisis or in emotional distress.

“The idea that we could do a corn maze regarding suicide was a simple thing,” John told The Western Journal. “We decided on the way to the funeral.”

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But as they thought about it more, they became concerned that it may be too bold of a statement, so John reached out to others in the same industry to ask for their advice.

“You always want to do something that’s going to drive people to your farm,” he said. “But every person we talked to within our industry said, ‘If it’s important to you, go ahead and do it.'”

Since Govin’s Farm revealed this year’s theme, it has been received well by people across the world. The photo itself has been shared over 1,800 times.

John also said that he has already received messages from people who have experienced suicidal thoughts, thanking him for his hopeful message. Even the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline non-profit commented on the farm’s photo to thank them for bringing attention to their services.

“We thought we’d maybe have an effect locally and now our maze is being seen worldwide — our message is being seen worldwide,” he said.

After he and his wife decided to follow through with the suicide prevention message, John remembers thinking, “Maybe nobody will come to our maze, but if somehow if we make a difference in someone’s life then the year will be worth it.”

That initial hope for the maze has already been achieved and the maze hasn’t even opened yet!

In addition to the main suicide prevention theme, the farm will also feature a children’s maze that will highlight anti-bullying efforts with Spookly the Square Pumpkin.

“As a society and a culture, we’ve got to talk about this,” Govin told USA Today. “Every person alive is the most important person in the world to somebody else. It just matters so much. I can’t repeat enough that everybody’s life matters.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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