Campaign aims to reduce suicide in rural areas

Agriculture sector represents second highest percentage of suicides in Cork study

The rural suicide intervention initiative is being led by Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre. Photograph: Pieta House

The rural suicide intervention initiative is being led by Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre. Photograph: Pieta House

 

A campaign to reduce the incidence of suicide in rural communities will be launched tomorrow and is thought to be the biggest initiative of its kind to date.

The rural suicide intervention initiative is being led by Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre, and is being supported by bodies such as the Irish Farmers’ Association, Teagasc, the Irish Countrywomen’s Association and the Department of Agriculture.

Warning signs
It aims to help men and women in rural and farming communities to spot the warning signs of suicide and intervene to save a life. Pieta House will provide training to members of farm organisations and has also edited an information booklet with the IFA which will be distributed to their 88,000 members.

It is part of Pieta House’s “Mind Our Men” campaign, which aims to reduce male suicide. Eight out of every 10 suicides in Ireland are male.

Factors such as loneliness and isolation have regularly been cited as contributory factors in rural suicides but the difficult weather last winter has heightened concerns about the mental wellbeing of some farmers.

Fodder crisis
The fodder crisis of last spring left some farmers with no silage or hay for their livestock and no money to buy feed. In April, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney told the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that the drastic shortage of fodder was causing huge stress for farmers.

Pieta House reported an increased number of calls from rural areas at that time. The charity has been working with vets in the Munster region to help them recognise suicidal signs in farmers. Concern has also been expressed about the high incidence of suicide among farmers in Clare, with some estimates suggesting rural families accounted for seven suicides in west Clare in the past year.

Last week a study of suicide cases in Cork between 2008 and 2012 was published showing that 13 per cent of the victims worked in agriculture. It was second only to construction, which accounted for 41 per cent of victims.
Pieta House can be contacted at 01 601000. The Samaritans helpline is 1850 609090. Aware can be contacted at 1890 303302.