Speaking at the new Pieta House West centre in Tuam, Co Galway at the launch of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA)/Pieta House phone helpline, IFA president John Bryan said the high rate of suicide, particularly among men in rural areas, is the driving force behind the joint initiative between IFA and Pieta House.

Pieta House offers a compassionate, solution-focused one-to-one counselling service to those in suicidal crisis or engaging in self-harm, completely free of charge.

There were 507 deaths by suicide in Ireland in 2012, of these 413 were men. In 2011, the agricultural sector accounted for 12.5 per cent of suicides in Ireland, the second highest sector after construction.

The phone line and information booklet is the IFA’s response to the need for increased information and support for farm families.

Speaking at the launch, Bryan said: “As farmers we can sometimes feel over whelmed by the many challenges facing us, be they financial, red tape, long working hours, isolation or family difficulties. It is important that farmers and their families know there is help out there. The IFA/Pieta House phone line will put farm families in direct contact with a Pieta House-trained therapist.”

IFA farm family and social affairs chairwoman Margaret Healy said that people who often feel suicidal do not want to burden family or friends with their worries. She said this dedicated suicide and self-harm phone line will encourage people to talk and get help.

Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House, welcomes the partnership with the IFA.

“Through this collaboration, we can collectively reach out to the huge farming community in Ireland and help them to look out for their loved ones by teaching them the signs of suicide.

“People in rural areas can often find themselves isolated and lonely so by connecting with them through this booklet and phone line, we will let them know that there is care and support available if they find themselves in distress or difficulty,” she said.

If you are feeling suicidal or concerned about a family member or friend, call the IFA Pieta House phone line 1890 130022.

The Mind Our Farm Families booklet is available here.

Pictured: From left Joan Freeman CEO Pieta House, IFA President John Bryan and IFA farm family committee Margaret Healy