IRELAND’S suicide rate is at its lowest since 1993 when it was decriminalised, the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention’s (NOSP) latest report reveals.
It points out that latest figures for death by suicide from the Central Statistics Office show a small ongoing reduction in death by suicide over the last three years.
There were 424 deaths by suicide last year, a drop from 460 in 2007. There were 460 deaths by suicide in 2006.
Almost four times as many men (332) took their lives, compared with 92 women.
The report also shows that the suicide rate among youths aged 15 to 24 in Ireland, is the fourth highest in the EU after Lithuania, Finland and Estonia.
The rate of suicide among males peaks at age 20 to 24 while the peak rate for women is in the early 50s.
When all of the population is considered, Ireland has the sixth lowest rate in the EU.
NOSP director Geoff Day said the reduction gave some cause for optimism that the actions being taken to prevent suicide at local and national level were working.
“It is startlingly clear, however, that we now need to concentrate our efforts on reducing the number of youth suicides,” he said.
He said suicide rates increased steadily in the early 1980s to an unacceptable high rate in the late 1990s, peaking in 1998.
“There has been a levelling off of the suicide rate since then, although it is too early to assess whether this is significant and ongoing,” said Mr Day.
He explained that the data was still provisional, as suicide could only be treated as such once a coroner’s inquest had taken place.
The president of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Fine Gael TD Dan Neville, said he was concerned about the increase in “undetermined” deaths – there were 119 in 2007 and 181 in last year.
“There is always a question in relation to undetermined deaths and suicide. It has always been accepted that the official suicide statistical rate does not fully reflect the true level of suicide,” he said.
The report was launched at the opening of the NOSP’s 4th annual forum, held in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin at which over 70 organisations working in the area of suicide prevention were represented.
Mr Daly said it was nearly four years since Reach Out – the National Strategy for action on Suicide Prevention was published.
“We thought this was an appropriate time for the many organisations working so hard to prevent suicide to showcase their efforts,” he said.
Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health John Moloney, who launched the report, said resources released by the closure of psychiatric hospitals would go directly to the development of mental health facilities. “And I am pleased to say I have the support of the Government and the Taoiseach in that context.”
Mr Maloney said he would also show what was being delivered in the reform of mental health from the proceeds raised from the sale of the land and properties.
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