A new suicide intervention centre is needed to cope with the significant increase in the number of Clare people expressing suicidal thoughts over a three-year period, according to support group Pieta House.
The latest official figures show the number of number of phone, face-to-face meetings, and emails to the Clare and Ennis branch of the Samaritans rose 16% from 15,000 in 2009 to 17,383 in 2011.
It is estimated between 15%-20% of all calls to the Samaritans are from people who relay suicidal thoughts.
There has also been a surge in referrals to Pieta House, the Mid-West Centre for Prevention of Self-Harm and Suicide in Mungret, Limerick.
Tom McEvoy, organiser of Ennis Darkness Into Light, has said there has been a marked increase in the number of people using the Mid-West facility this year compared to last year.
In total, 348 people from Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary, and North Kerry used the centre last year.
Mr McEvoy said a new outreach centre was needed in Ennis to cope with the increasing numbers of people in the acute stage of suicidal distress.
He said increased financial support was also needed from the Government to assist Pieta House expand its service nationwide.
The State gives Pieta House an annual contribution of €130,000, which equates to 10% of its annual running costs of €1.3m.
A once-off €100,000 grant from the National Lottery was also donated to help fund the capital cost of providing the Mid-West Centre in Mungret.
Mr McEvoy stressed annual funding of €500,000 was needed to achieve the group’s aim of providing a centre within 100km of all facilities.
“The cost of suicide to Ireland is estimated at between €850m and €900m annually. Pieta House fills an extremely important gap in our collective battle against suicide. There are some groups doing very good work in the prevention and postvention areas, but Pieta House is unique in the intervention area and are determined that its service becomes available nationwide.
“The HSE and [Irish College of General Practitioners] are actively referring to the organisation and approve of their approach. The individuals, who are deemed to be high risk, are referred to Pieta House.
“Now there is somewhere to go. The demand for the services of Pieta House continues to grow.”
In 2010, Pieta House opened its second national centre in Mungret, which followed Pieta House’s existing facility in Lucan as well as its three outreach centres in Finglas, Tallaght, and Ballyfermot.
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