Irish teen suicide rates among highest in EU

The suicide rate among teenage girls is higher in Ireland than any EU state, while the rate among young Irish males is the second highest, according to a report analysing what governments are doing to prevent intentional injury to children.

The study looks at 27 EU member states plus Iceland and Norway, and found Ireland has the second-highest level of deaths in Europe by intentional injury, either self-inflicted or by another person.

While the suicide rate among girls in Ireland is almost 2.5 times the EU average (2.09 per 100,000 compared to 0.84), it is far lower than the male youth rate at 5.12 per 100,000, which is more than twice the EU average of 2.39.

The distribution of suicides varies by age across Europe, mostly occurring among 15- to 19-year-olds, but with a small number among 5- to 9-year-olds.

Throughout Europe, male rates are higher in all age groups, with male rates in 15- to 19-year-olds nearly three times those of females.

Fine Gael TD Dan Neville, president of the board of directors of the Irish Association of Suicidology, said the youth suicide rates were “extremely alarming”.

While Government funding for the National Office for Suicide Prevention had increased from €4m in 2013 to €8m this year, it was “still nowhere near what’s required”, said Mr Neville.

He agreed with the report that our national suicide strategy, Reach Out, was still “under development”, while there remained “a long way to go”.

The report, ‘What are European countries doing to prevent intentional injury to children?’ is launched today by the European Child Safety Alliance and is part of an initiative encouraging governments to implement evidence-based practices for prevention of injury to children and youth.

Dublin City University is involved and Anthony Staines, chairman of health systems at its School of Nursing & Human Sciences, said while Ireland was better than many EU states in minimising risks of intentional injury to children, much more needs to be done.

“There isn’t a magic bullet. What’s needed is a broad-based, multi-agency approach, looking at how to provide support in the home, in schools, in the community,” he said.

Prof Staines said a lot of self-harm in older teens is linked to alcohol abuse and more preventative strategies were needed.

There were 600 deaths among people under 25 in Ireland in 2012: 195 of these were external causes, 101 accidental, 94 intentional or unknown (mostly suicides).

The HSE said the rate of self harm in Ireland has decreased over the last two years. It said its National Office for Suicide Prevention “plays a pivotal role in funding, co-ordinating, and giving strategic direction to the work of over 40 agencies working to promote positive mental health and reduce suicide and self-harm in Ireland”.

Child deaths

* Of the 35,000-plus 0-19-year-olds who die each year in the EU, roughly 9,100 deaths are due to injuries

* About a third of these deaths are classified as intentional or of undetermined intent

* Ireland has the second-highest rate of intentional injury deaths in the EU: 5.23 males and 2.37 females per 100,000, against an EU average of 2.85 males and 1.2 females.

* Ireland’s homicide rates are below the EU average: 0.11 per 100,000 males and 0.27 per 100,000 females, against EU levels of 0.44 males and 0.36 females.

* For assistance, contact www.samaritans.ie

* For more information on this issue download the Irish Examiner’s free booklet; Let’s Talk: Suicide

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