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News : Number of Calls by Farmers to Suicide Helpline Trebles
Nov 7, 2013 -- The amount of calls from farmers to suicide prevention charity Console’s Farm and Rural Stress Helpline have increased by more than 300% over the past six months.
The national suicide prevention and bereavement charity said financial woes and the fodder shortage combined to cause a large increase in calls in the early part of the summer.
Some 5,267 calls to Console were received from the farming and rural communities from March to September, compared to 1,316 calls in the previous six months.
Console’s 24-hour Farm and Rural Stress helpline is operated by the organisation on behalf of the Health Service Executive.
"Often callers to the helpline are in great emotional pain and many are on the brink of ending their own lives," said Console’s founder and CEO Paul Kelly. "Money worries coupled with rural isolation and a great sense of loneliness are the main problems.
"The fodder crisis in March and April saw calls to the helpline rise dramatically from 347 in February to 876 in April with the situation putting a huge strain on people’s marriages and relationships. "Farmers struggled, and in many cases failed, to get the support of their banks. The stress of that combined with a sense among farmers that they are isolated from the community, left many feeling unable to cope."
Over 6,500 members of the farming community have called the crisis helpline in the past 12 months.
IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairwoman, Margaret Healy said she is not surprised by the increased number of calls to the Farm and Rural Stress helpline. "I have travelled the country talking at IFA and other community meetings as part of IFA’s campaign 'Let’s Talk: Dealing with Farm Stress' and I have seen first-hand the stress that many farm families are under.
"The recession continues to take its toll on many farm families and the Farm and Rural Stress helpline is an essential support service for rural communities."
Console believes the problem of loneliness is particularly acute among single farmers living in rural areas.
"Rural communities have changed dramatically. A lack of public transport and little access to public services has served to increase isolation," said Paul Kelly. "We often find that callers living in remote areas have heightened anxiety about their own personal safety.
"Farmers are naturally private people, they tend not to talk about their problems but to suffer in silence. It takes great courage for such people to pick up the phone and call our helpline. "We provide professionally trained, highly-qualified and accredited counsellors. We want to get the message out there to farmers that this is not just a listening service, that the Farm and Rural Stress Helpline can really help," said Paul Kelly.
Nationwide professional suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console offers counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide.
The charity has full-time counselling centres in Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Wexford, Galway, Kerry and Mayo.
It also offers services in Kildare and Athlone and has recently opened a service in London.
Counselling, advice and general support is available for any individual, couples, groups, families or children who have been affected by suicide.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, November 11, 2013