An adult daughter and wife of an elderly mass-going farmer who took his own life during the first Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ blame the pandemic for worsening his depression.
At the Clare Coroner’s Court in Ennis, the 74 year old man’s widow said that her husband’s general health was good but that he had suffered with depression over the last 10 years.
The farmer took his own life on March 31 last in a slatted shed at his farm located in the west Clare electoral area days after the first Covid 19 lockdown was announced by the Government here on March 27.
The couple were married 51 years and in the widow’s deposition read out at the inquest, she stated: ‘He was further upset by Covid. He was no longer able to go to mass”.
In her deposition, the woman - who was the last person to see her husband alive - stated that her late husband had told her “the world we live in is a bad place”.
An adult daughter of the farmer - who would have celebrated his 75th birthday next month - told the inquest in her deposition that her father had suffered from depression on and off for 10 years and added “I feel the Covid 19 virus which came into the world made my father more depressed and he felt very isolated as a result of this.”
The farmer's death left bereaved his wife, five daughters, one son and 15 grand-children.
It was one of the grand-children who made the grim discovery in the slatted shed on the Tuesday lunchtime on March 31 last.
The grand-son, aged over 18, alerted his parents when he told them ‘Grand-dad isn’t well’ and their efforts along with efforts by paramedics at resuscitating the man failed.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene by his GP, Dr Finbar Fitzpatrick later that afternoon.
County Coroner, Isobel O’Dea told family members present: “I’m not really sure that the evidence is strong enough for a suicide verdict."
She stated that the man didn’t leave a note. Ms O’Dea stated that she was “conscious of the shock and upset the death has brought to all of the family”.
Ardnacrusha farmer and Clare IFA representative on the IFA’s Farm Family and Social Affairs committee, Geraldine O’Connell today described the circumstances around the farmer’s death as “heartbreaking”.
The group helps with farmers’ mental health and farm safety and Ms O’Connell stated: “On behalf of IFA farmers in Clare and all over the country, I would like to offer the family our sympathy.”
In a telephone interview, Ms O'Connell stated: “It could be any of our stories. My heart goes out to the family.”
Ms O’Connell stated that farming “is isolating and farmers are isolated”.
Ms O’Connell stated this isolation has only increased with the closure of the marts and farmers not able to visit each other’s homes due to the Covid lockdown.
Anyone impacted by this issue can contact The Samaritans on 116 123, Pieta House on 1800 247 247, Aware on 1800 804 848 or Childline on 1800 666 666. SOSAD can be contacted on 041 984 8754.