A series of crises within the agriculture sector has put such pressure on farmers that 53 per cent have been affected by suicide, with 16 per cent having dealt with it in their immediate or wider family.
The figures have come from the ICMSA and have led Fianna Fáil Galway East TD and spokesperson on mental health Colm Keaveney to say that a combination of the dismantling of essential services in rural locations and a succession of crises in the agriculture sector has contributed to farmers “dealing with complex financial situations, often on their own”.
Dep Keaveney said the ICMSA study highlights an urban-rural divide, and emphasises the impact rural isolation is having on farmers.
“The dismantling of essential services in rural locations has irreversibly damaged the fabric of many communities,” he said. “The closure of Garda stations, post offices, and banks saw the removal of vital services and the loss of a vital social outlet.
“Many farmers live on their own and may not meet other people unless they venture into their nearest village or town. For them, the threat of mental illness and suicide is heightened by loneliness and isolation.”
He also said the fodder crisis last year, combined with ongoing problems in the beef industry, “has put more pressure on farmers, many of whom are already struggling to keep their businesses viable”.
In light of the ICMSA report, Dep Keaveney said the budget for mental health services must be “properly resourced and ring-fenced” rather than “raided and spent in other areas