Almost 10 times as many people took their own lives in Clare last year as died on the county’s roads.
According to preliminary figures from the Co Clare coroner’s office, 19 people took their own lives in the county in 2011. This compares to a historic low of two people dying on the county’s roads during 2011.
Leading consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee said that the continuing rise in the suicide figures in Clare “is shocking and frightening”.
The provisional figure of 19 people taking their life compares to 18 in 2010 and 17 in 2009.
The total for 2011 could be higher as coroner Isobel O’Dea’s figures include a number of deaths where it is not possible to determine the cause.
Also, the figures for Clare are inflated by people from outside the county travelling to take their own lives at the Cliffs of Moher.
Last year the Doolin Rescue Unit recovered eight bodies of people who fell into the water at the cliffs — with a number of those from outside Clare.
“The major drop in road deaths in Clare just shows what can be done when the Government devotes resources to tackling the issue,” said Dr Bhamjee, “and the continuing rise in suicide only highlights the Government’s failure to address the growing numbers committing suicide.
“Of course, tackling the issue of suicide is far more complex than reducing the number of road deaths, but mental health needs to be a much higher priority for Government.”
Dr Bhamjee said he believes that the effects of the recession are only adding to the numbers taking their own lives.
“The official numbers taking their own lives is always under-reported and I believe that you can add 20% to the official figure.”
Last year, Dr Bhamjee came under fire after proposing that the Government should add lithium salts to a public water supply on a pilot basis to reduce depression and suicide.
Lithium is sometimes utilised by doctors as a mood stabiliser and is used in the treatment of depression.
He repeated his call saying the Government should determine where there are hot-spots of suicide and add lithium salts to water supplies in those areas on a pilot basis.
Dr Bhamjee urged any person having suicidal thoughts to seek help.
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