Suicide prevention in rural areas: Jude McCann's Story
Jude McCann researched ways of reaching and supporting people at risk of suicide in rural areas, particularly in the farming community. Jude's Fellowship was supported by The Rank Foundation.
Jude is the Chief Executive of Rural Support, a Northern Ireland regional organisation that provides telephone and outreach support services to rural dwellers and farmers.
Deaths as a result of suicide are on the rise in Northern Ireland, particularly amongst farmers and rural communities, with young men having been identified as particularly vulnerable. Jude travelled to Australia, Canada and New Zealand to explore successful initiatives that are reducing stress and suicide in rural areas, and to identify strategies for reaching those at risk.
In New Zealand Jude met with members of the Rural Support Trust, a nationwide network which aims to help people to more effectively meet and overcome financial, personal and climatic challenges. In particular they seek to tackle the causes of stress before they become a major crisis.
On his return, Jude introduced a preventative programme of financial mentoring, ‘Tackling Rural Stress: Promoting Positive Mental Health’, based on the New Zealand model. In March 2014 he was successful in applying for Public Health Agency funding for a six-month pilot which has since been extended for a further two years.
The project had substantial uptake, with 250 farmers and family members, using the one-to-one mentoring provided to address financial problems within the farm business. In all cases this had a positive impact on the wellbeing of the individuals concerned.
In the future Jude hopes to continue to develop this model, and has recently secured additional funding to provide bespoke business mentoring to farming families experiencing distress during what is now a particularly difficult time for the farming industry.