Madam, – The increasing isolation that modern life seems to impose on more and more people was recently brought into sharp focus by Fr Harry Bohan in highlighting the increasing incidence of rural male suicide, especially among young and middle aged farmers (The Irish Times, August 29th). His call for more focus on building sustainable communities, the environment and the human spirit could be applied generally, given the increasing incidence of suicide in all sections of society as we struggle to cope with the most rapid period of change in our history.

An urgent response is required and there is one thing that can be acted upon immediately, namely his suggestion that we focus on the importance of the human spirit. Respecting everyone as a unique individual entitled to dignity and respect is the foundation of everything we do in Trust and many of your readers will probably be as shocked as we were to discover the kind of questionnaires which those we meet every day must answer to obtain services on many occasions. Some are as long as 40 pages, with questions about the most intimate aspects of their lives, often asked by very young and inexperienced people, with potentially serious consequences especially for those with serious mental or psychological problems. Compelling people to trade highly personal information for a service seems more designed – albeit unwittingly – to break a person’s spirit than to enhance any sense of self worth.

In other words, treating the most vulnerable with dignity and respect, especially respecting their right to privacy, surely must be the starting point if we are serious about creating a truly inclusive society. That is the only way we can nurture the human spirit of many who are relentlessly crushed by the pace of life in a society that seems increasingly intolerant of those who cannot keep up or fit in successfully.

– Yours, etc,
Director & Co-Founder,
Bride Road,
Dublin 8.