COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Samaritans seeks to raise profile with rural communities

Samaritans is attempting to boost its profile with farmers and other rural dwellers in Ireland, identified by the charity as being at high risk of suicide.

Leaflets are being distributed in places such as GP surgeries and schools to encourage people to consider calling Samaritans if they need support.

Since the foot-and-mouth crisis, Samaritans has changed how it operates so that it can refer clients to other agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux and the Rural Stress Information Network.

Samaritans spokeswoman Sarah Nelson said life for people in rural communities - particularly farmers - has become increasingly complex and bureaucratic.

Nelson said referring people on would not become the organisation's core activity: "It is not something that we normally do, but it is important because in some cases emotional support may not be enough."

The campaign has been launched in the Republic of Ireland and is about to be extended to Northern Ireland.

Samaritans has been involved in the four-year-old Rural Stress Action Plan in partnership with the British Government.

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