The staggering amount of booze that young Irish people drink has long been documented, but far less is known about the effects of alcohol on their lives.
That makes today’s report on youth mental health highly significant.
Interviewing 14,300 people aged between 12 to 25, UCD researchers visited secondary schools, colleges, training centres, and work locations across the country.
What parents will find worrying is that the drinking habits of nearly half those surveyed (45%) are seen as “problematic”.
Apparently, young people generally start drinking more heavily when they are only 13 or 14 years old.
That may be central to the crisis besetting pub owners who say they are being driven out of business by sales of cheap alcohol in supermarkets.
Probing deeper, the report finds that one in five had self-harmed and regard suicide as a way out of their problems.
The importance of listening to young people is crucial because “one good adult” can have a positive influence on the mental health of young people.
Sadly, more than one-third of young people lack that presence.
Instead of talking or seeking help, they turn to thoughts of suicide, often resorting to self-harm or attempting to take their own lives.
This important study should inform future policy both on mental health and the sale of alcohol.
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