Travellers in Ireland have such poor levels of mental health that one man has described it as a “pandemic within our own community”.
Suicide has been dubbed a “silent killer” within the Traveller community and in 2014 Pavee Point found that 11% of all traveller deaths were the result of suicide.
While in 2019 82% of Travellers said they had been affected by the issue and 90% agreed that it was a problem within the community.
Ahead of a protest, the Traveller Mental Health Network said that the Government had let the community down and more needs to be down to tackle the issue:
“If this had been any other group within Irish society they would have put in an action plan straight away,” Hugh Friel from the Donegal Traveller Project told Newstalk.
“I remember when the Farmers’ Association had suicide [groups] set up, they set up counselling, they took a number of key actions.
“If you look at the traveller community, [the level of suicide] is seven times higher. It’s astonishing that the Government hasn’t [put in place] an action plan in relation to the suicide rate.
“We need interventions, we need a strategic plan and we need someone from Government to drive it.”
“We’re having a pandemic within our own community in relation to mental health issues and suicide at this present time.
“And we’re asking the Government basically, ‘Who is accountable?’
“Because all these strategic plans, names and goals in relation to the traveller community to better their well-being and health promotion - it’s not working.”
The protest is due to begin tomorrow outside Leinster House at midday.
Main image: A teenage girl sitting alone near the sea. Picture by: Gary Hider / Alamy Stock Photo