Commenting on the findings of today’s Irish Examiner ICMSA Survey which showed that more than half of farmers surveyed had been hit ‘directly’ by suicide, the President of ICMSA, John Comer said that non-farming or non-rural readers would struggle to comprehend the statistic but for those involved with farmer and rural development groups, the very sobering revelation could not come as a complete surprise.
Mr Comer said that nothing at all terrifies and saddens small farming communities like suicide and, most specifically, an unforeseen, ‘out-of-the-blue’, suicide where a family member or close neighbour with no history of depression or mental health issues takes his or her own life and plunges an unsuspecting family and wider parish or community into a spasm of fear and sadness.
Confirming that ICMSA is working with Pieta House and SeeChange in the area of mental health, Mr Comer said that while not making a political point or special plea, he was bound to point out that as the level of services available in rural communities drops – in many instances into a state of non-existence – that the opportunities and possibilities for the ordinary, everyday, neighbourly encounters, that are the fabric of any healthy community, drop away and disappear as well.
“The creameries went a generation ago. But now the post office might be gone and the postman uses a post-box at the top of the passage, so you never see him or her any more. Or maybe you got a message that the Guard wanted to see you or you had to get something signed, and off you went into the village to see them. But now the local barracks is closed. So is the local bank. And the local DVO (District Veterinary Office). And the local pub is one of the 2000 that have closed in the last decade. And maybe the local school is going to be closed and amalgamated with a few others into a new ‘super-school’, he noted.
Mr Comer concluded by stating that all of society must realise that providing services and options for farming and rural communities isn’t any kind of burden or expense but actually the sensible, rational, and healthy way of keeping the people who produce our food involved and intrinsic to our debates and wellbeing.
Ends. 23 September 2014.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office