Son calls on farmers to be mindful of mental health after sudden death of his father

His son Thomas (24) said that there were no warning signs leading up to the suicide of his beloved father who was aged just 59.

A son who has raised €26,000 for Pieta House since his father died by suicide less than a fortnight ago has appealed to farmers to be mindful of their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Father of four Paddy McCarthy of Ballinadee, Co Cork died on May 1.

His son Thomas (24) said that there were no warning signs leading up to the suicide of his beloved father who was aged just 59.

Thomas had to made the lonely journey back from Whistler north of Vancouver in Canada for the funeral mass for his late father. 23 hours and three flights later he arrived back in the family home near Kinsale to reunite with his mother and siblings.

Four days ago Thomas and the family set up a Go Fund me page in memory of Paddy with the response exceeding their wildest hopes. He said his dad had a passion for the farm and for music.

"He loved Bruce Springsteen. He loved music. He loved dancing. He just loved life. That is why it is such a shock. He really loved the farm. You think 'how could he leave behind something he loved so much.' It is surreal."

Thomas has urged farmers to be conscious of their mental health during the Covid-19 crisis.

"It is such an isolating job anyway. They might have the mart once a week or some social event once a week. Now they don't have that it might make them feel even more lonely. It is important that they go speak to someone or talk to someone.

"The ones who don't speak or talk they are the ones who do it (suicide). You think 'how could I not have seen it? How could I not have done anything? But sure there is no way you could have known."

The McCarthy family got up for the Pieta House Darkness in to Light event and walked down to the local church and back in memory of Paddy.

Thomas said that the Covid-19 restrictions which curtailed the size of the funeral added to their grief. Whilst they understand the need for such measure funerals are "surreal" in the current environment.

"The funeral was very different. There was only 10 of us in the crematorium. Because of social distancing people couldn't really come over to the house or come to the church.

"But we are very lucky that we have a great support system with great family and neighbours and friends and cousins we are close to. Not being able to see them adds another layer along with everything else."

Thomas has asked the public to continue to donate to Pieta House in this challenging time.

"Thursday night we were outside on the patio and having a drink and when it went to €10,000 we said 'Cheers' to Dad. I know how good they are. We are delighted with all the donations."

Mr McCarthy is survived by his wife Ann and his children Anna, Thomas, Rachel and Niall. Donations can be made here.

The Mind Our Farm Families is a dedicated suicide and self-harm phone line 1890 130 022 between IFA and Pieta House. The phone line for IFA members will put farmers and their families in direct contact with a Pieta House trained therapist.

The high rate of suicide, particularly among men in rural areas, is the driving force behind IFA’s involvement in setting up this dedicated service.

Last year West Cork farmer Tommy Moyles urged farmers who are feeling under strain to reach out to others to discuss feelings of depression and isolation in what at times can be a difficult livelihood.

Mr Moyles, who operates a beef farm in Ardfield, Clonakilty, Co Cork said that it was vital for farmers show solidarity with each other.

"I would say (to farmers) that they should keep the heads up and talk to people. One of the challenges of farming is that you are dealing with uncontrollables.

"Weather, plants, animals and markets. It is important for people to keep talking to people."

More in this section