A study carried out by Teagasc has found that farmers over the age of 65 are almost three times more likely to die by suicide than their non-farming counterparts.

One of the primary reasons for this, according to international research, is poor health, Teagasc researcher Dr David Meredith told a Be Safe conference in Teagasc Ashtown on Tuesday.

Some 27% of all farmers who died by suicide between 2007 and 2020 were aged over 65, compared to 10% for the general population.

The study took into account not just farm holders, but farm family workers and employees.

Approximately 270,000 people were included in this category, according to Meredith, who worked alongside Anne Markey from UCD in the study.

The study found that, overall, there were 457 deaths by suicide between 2007 and 2020 among the ‘farming population’ versus 6,616 deaths by suicide among the general population.


Farming and agriculture accounted for 6.91% of total deaths for this period.

The number of suicides was at its highest in 2013 (45) and lowest in 2019 (22).

More positively, the study also found that suicide rates among the farming population has been declining.

“The rate of suicide among farmers increased very dramatically from 2007, but particularly 2008 up to 2013 and has been declining since but not declining in a smooth line.

“If there is any sort of positive dimension to this, it’s that the rate is not as high as it used to be among farmers,” Dr Meredith said.