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Monday, June 25, 2012
The first in a series of nationwide meetings aimed at tackling suicide is to take place in Cork tonight.
It is hoped that the families and friends of people who have taken their own lives will attend the meeting along with members of the medical profession.
It is being organised by Senator John Gilroy, who has been asked by the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to help formulate ways of reducing the number of suicides in the country — which considerably outstrip the number of deaths on our roads each year.
The public meeting, which will be chaired by Mr Gilroy, will take place at the Vienna Woods Hotel, Glanmire at 8pm.
The most recent figures available from government agencies show that more than 1,000 people took their own lives between 2009 and 2010.
It is feared that in line with reports from other countries, the economic recession here will result in an increase in the number of suicides.
Mr Gilroy — whose title is rapporteur (compiler) on Suicide Prevention to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children — was selected for the job in part because he worked as a psychiatric nurse at St Stephen’s Hospital, Glanmire, for 27 years.
"We want to hear what ordinary people have to say about the topic. The meetings which will be held around the country will be open to everybody and I hope as many people as possible will turn up," Mr Gilroy said.
He said the feedback from the public consultation process will form part of a report that he will prepare which he hopes to furnish to the special Oireachtas Committee later this year.
"At the meeting, which will be informal, we want to hear what people have to say," he said.
"We don’t have any answers but we do need to have a national conversation about suicide.
"There is not a single individual in the country who has not been touched by suicide and everyone has an opinion. We want to hear those opinions," he said.
However, Mr Gilroy hopes the nationwide workshops can provide the Government with the necessary tools to reduce the average suicide death rate of 500 per year.
But the senator believes that the real figure could be far higher.
He quoted international evidence which shows that between 30% and 50% of undetermined deaths are actually likely to be as a result of suicide.
In 2009, coroners in this country ruled 195 deaths as undetermined. The 2010 figure was 123.
Suicide remains the leading cause of death in young men aged 16 to 24.
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