Group aims to tackle level of rural suicides
on 11/09/2013 00:00:00
The campaign was launched on World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday by Pieta House chief executive Joan Freeman and Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee, daughter of the late junior minister Shane McEntee.
Pieta House is to provide information books and training to various organisations on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of suicidal behaviour and what to do if a loved one is in crisis.
The initiative is supported by the Irish Farmers Association, the Irish Countrywomen's Association, the Department of Agriculture, and Teagasc.
Speaking in Kells, Co Meath, yesterday, Ms Freeman said there were many factors that could cause huge stress for farmers and people living in rural Ireland.
"Isolation, loneliness, crop failure, lack of fodder, and loss of animals can cause terrible distress, which is leading to a rising suicide rate in rural areas," she said.
Ms McEntee said she hoped that the initiative would show people that there were many avenues of help and support networks available.
IFA deputy president Eddie Downey said at the launch that IFA members saw the effects that suicide had on farming communities and the need to tackle what was an increasingly prevalent problem in rural Ireland.
"The recent fodder crisis caused huge distress for farmers and we hope that this initiative will make farmers and their families aware of the help available and encourage them to look out for one another," Mr Downey said.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the Government must invest more money in suicide awareness and prevention, and agree on an all-island suicide prevention strategy with the executive in the North.
"An all-island suicide prevention strategy can make best use of existing resources and focus them on the areas of greatest need," he said.
The Samaritans said that while World Suicide Prevention Day offered an opportunity to focus on the issue on a macro level, it was crucial that people who were feeling down or had a sense of despair knew that they could still access services in a timely way.
Samaritans national chairman Pio Fenton said that the day often highlighted a lack of services and supports for those who needed them.
"In the midst of this, it's important for anyone feeling down to know that there are always some level of services available," Mr Fenton said.