Suicide charity begins rural intervention campaign

Pieta House initiative backed by farmers’ organisations and Government

Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee, who launched the Pieta House campaign today. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee, who launched the Pieta House campaign today. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tue, Sep 10, 2013, 13:37

Suicide prevention charity Pieta House has launched a rural suicide intervention campaign which it says is the biggest such initiative ever launched in this State.

It has the backing of the Irish Farmers’ Association, the ICA, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture.

Pieta House founder Joan Freeman said the involvement of such bodies meant that some half a million people in rural areas would be targeted.

Information booklets will be sent to the almost 90,000 IFA members, giving advice on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of suicidal behaviour and what to do if someone is in crisis.

Pieta House will also provide training to members of these rural organisations so that they will be equipped to spot the signs and intervene.

Ms Freeman said the campaign was targeting farm families, rather than the men themselves, as this would bemore effective.

The campaign was launched by Fine Gael deputy Helen McEntee whose father Shane, a former minister of state, died by suicide last year.

She said she hoped the campaign would help to prevent other families from experiencing the pain of suicide.

“If it does save a life or save 10 lives or if it does mean that another family isn’t in the same position that we are in now then yes, I definitely think it is worth it,” she said.

IFA deputy president Eddie Downey said some farmers were under enormous pressure for a variety of reasons and IFA wanted to ensure that their families knew how to spot the signs of suicidal behaviour and deal with it.

He said issues such as last year’s bad weather, the fodder crisis and the banks’ crisis were adding to the stress and isolation felt by people in rural areas.

Pieta House can be contacted at pieta.ie or 01-6010000.