Debt leads to rise in suicides
Fear of regulations also causing stress
DEBT incurred by farm improvements and loss of off-farm income has been highlighted as a contributory factor in the dramatic rise in suicide among Irish farmers.
New research carried out as part of a Teagasc initiative to tackle rural suicides indicates that financial pressures, social shifts and the speed of change in agriculture are the most common themes identified by farmers who have attempted suicide.
Thirty-three farmers took their own lives in 2009, a rise of 24pc from the previous year.
Farmers accounted for 8pc of the 422 male suicide deaths in Ireland last year, and as an occupational group, three times as many farmers died by suicide compared with other professionals.
A study by PhD student Maria Feeney on suicide and the Irish farming community also highlights that increased regulations have added to the tensions and worries of farmers.
Ms Feeney's research was based on interviews conducted with 26 men, aged 19 to 74, who had attempted suicide.
"Financial worries are linked to identity issues with men and a lot of the respondents felt that the loss of their role as breadwinner compromised their self-worth and led them to believe they were failures," Ms Feeney explained.
She said social change had also been linked to suicide, as many farmers experienced isolation when farms moved from being a family business to a one-man operation.