Self-harming ‘unrecognised’ as precursor to suicide

DELIBERATE self-harm is one of society’s most un- recognised problems and its links to suicide must be recognised, the head of a suicide crisis network has said.

Releasing its figures for 2010, Pieta House, which now operates five services, said it treated more than 1,000 people last year, 292 of whom were self-harming.

Figures from Pieta House reveal once again the extent of the problem of suicide in this country.

Of the 1,063 people who attended the crisis centre last year, the figures show that:

* 70% of all cases presented with suicidal thoughts.

* 235 people had already attempt taking their own life.

* 292 were self harming.

Joan Freeman, founder and head of Pieta House, said self-harm is going unrecognised as a precursor to attempted suicide.

She said of the 70% who had presented with suicidal ideation, one third had also engaged in self-harm.

Ms Freeman, having counselled many people who were self-harming, said self-harm is a topic that is often not discussed and rarely understood. Self- harm, she said, can have a life span of 20 or 30 years.

However, Ms Freeman said suicide is usually a result of a life crisis and nine out of 10 people who take their own life have no history of mental illness or psychiatric disorder.

“Pieta House is there to help people get through their crisis,” she said.

“Our long-term goal is to have a centre no more than 100 miles from every person in the country. We have a long way to go, and we need the support of the public to help us raise funds to reach our goal.”

The age profile of those receiving treatment showed a high level of patients under 18, representing 239 cases — 22% of those seen.

The highest age profile attending Pieta House were 26-44 year olds, accounting for 29%, closely followed by those in the 18-25-year-old category, at 28%.

Last month, Pieta House opened its second national centre in Limerick, which followed Pieta House’s existing facility in Lucan, as well as its three outreach services including Finglas and Tallaght and another recently-opened facility in Ballyfermot.

Pieta House released the 2010 figures to garner support for its annual Darkness into Light event to raise money for the organisation.

The event takes place on May 7 and will see participants begin a 5km course at 4am while it is still dark and finish while the dawn is breaking.

The event is set to take place across the country in six locations — Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Clare and Kerry.

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Kathryn Thomas and Ireland rugby boss, Declan Kidney are among those supporting the event.


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