Every Traveller family in the State has lost someone to suicide, co-director of the Traveller support organisation Pavee Point has said.
Martin Collins, speaking at the publication of a paper on Traveller Men's Health, said the suicide rate among Traveller men was seven times the rate among men in the general population. Life expectancy among Traveller men is 62 –15 years shorter than men in the general population.
“There wouldn’t be a Traveller family in the country who hasn’t lost someone to suicide,” said Mr Collins. “ It’s that prevalent. It’s endemic.”
Among the factors explaining their worse physical and mental health, said Mr Collins, were “racism and discrimination, leading to low educational attainment, bad quality accommodation, unemployment and difficulty accessing goods and services”.
At the publication, singer and songwriter Christy Moore spoke of his admiration and affection for Traveller people and referred to some of the "wonderful Traveller musicians" he had played with over the years, including Finbar Furey and the Keenan family.
He spoke of his struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction and chronic anxiety, saying it was only when he “admitted I was defeated” and reached out for help, that he was able to get better.
He performed three songs: Ride On, and two about Traveller life, My Name is Johnny Connors and Go, Move, Shift.