Cork city has the highest rate of male self-harm in the country and the second highest rate of self-harm when it comes to women, it has been revealed writes Kelly O'Brien.
The shocking statistics, provided to the Evening Echo by the Health Service Executive, reveal that almost 400 men out of every 100,000 self-harm here.
This puts the self-harm rate among men in Cork city at more than twice the national average of 185 men out of every 100,000.
The rate among females here is somewhat lower but is still substantially higher than the national average.
More than 320 females out of every 100,000 self-harm here, compared to the national average for females of 216 out of every 100,000, according to the latest available statistics, which are for 2014.
The only area with a higher rate than Cork city, in terms of female self-harming, is Limerick City.
When broken down into smaller geographical locations, it is clear that the rates of self-harm among both men and women are highest in the North Lee area. Rates in this area have been consistently higher than the national average for years.
“If you look at the rates in the North Lee Community, it’s extremely sobering,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor John Sheehan, a GP based in Blackpool.
Dr Sheehan added: “This area encompasses from Ballyvourney to Youghal — my understanding of it is that if you just take the city part of this area, the rate is even higher.”
Sinn Féin city councillor Thomas Gould agreed, and said something urgently needs to be done to combat “clusters” of people self-harming or attempting suicide in the area.
“In my own constituency, there have been a number of high-profile incidents where young people have taken their lives and it has had a ripple effect through the community,” he said.
“There should be someone going out to the schools to engage with these teenagers who are at risk and who are vulnerable. I know of one incident where a young girl took her life a number of weeks ago and there have been a number of other attempts since then of people of the same age.” He said while community Gardai do “a fantastic job,” their resources are extremely limited.
In terms of suicide, the suicide rate in Cork city has been considerably higher than the national average for more than 12 consecutive years now. Figures peaked in 2012 when the rate in Cork city rose to 23 out of every 100,000 people. This was almost twice the national average of 12 suicides per 100,000 people. The stark numbers were highlighted this week by HSE Suicide Resource Officer Martin Ryan at a special meeting of the Joint Policing Committee which took place in City Hall.
Mr Ryan has been visiting communities throughout the city and county for a number of weeks now, with a view towards developing an informed strategy to prevent suicidal behaviour and improve mental health.
“This plan is really about spending time in the community and getting people’s opinion about what should be done and then we can shape that plan, and make sure it’s the right one,” he said.
“The aim is to reduce the suicide rate in Cork city by 10% in the next five years. I think we can do that. Absolutely. But I think we can do a little bit more than that as well. I don’t think we should settle at 10%.”
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo.