National suicide level ‘deliberately underrated’

THE National Office for Suicide Prevention’s (NOSP) latest annual report deliberately misled the public by claiming suicide levels fell last year, a leading support group has claimed.

Figures released by the state body last week stated that Ireland’s suicide rate fell from 460 cases in 2007 to 424, the lowest annual level since suicide was decriminalised in 1993.

However, dismissing the figures as “deliberately inaccurate”, a spokesperson for support group Turning the Tide of Suicide (3TS) said the fall only appeared to occur because the NOSP was comparing confirmed overall figures for previous years with provisional registered deaths in 2008.

The provisional registered deaths are based only on the confirmed suicides six months after the year has concluded and not those still awaiting inquest hearings.

As a result, a 3TS spokesperson explained, they consistently underrate the final official national suicide level by an average of 41 deaths every year, meaning that there was no drop in suicides during 2008.

“In 2000, there were 413 registered deaths and 486 occurrence deaths, in 2001 it was 448 and 519, and in 2002 it was 451 and 478. Between 1997 and 2004 the registered deaths was 10 – 73 deaths lower than the actual number,” he said.

Meanwhile, suicide and self-harm prevention charity Pieta House confirmed plans to open a new €400,000 facility in Limerick next January. It will cater for people with suicidal or self-harm thoughts and those who are recovering from previous injuries.

As the group launched its Mind Your Buddy suicide awareness campaign, its chief executive, Dr Joan Freeman said while the reasons for suicide are never certain, “this year reveals that there is a direct correlation between suicide/self- harm and the economic downturn”.

She said anyone can help fund the group’s services by asking Vodafone to donate one euro from their mobile bill by texting BUDDY to 57000.

Suicide or Survive (SoS) support group founder Caroline McGuigan said: “We need more suicide prevention measures that allow people who are at risk of suicide to receive rapid support and allow them to reconsider.”

The You Are Not Alone coffee mornings group for those bereaved by suicide will hold a free barbecue this Sunday from 2pm at the mission centre, Carhue, Bandon, Co Cork.

The group was set up this year by Colette Wolfe and Bridget Collins. In 2000, Bridget’s 15- year-old son Stephen died by suicide, while in March 2007 Colette’s daughter Leanne, aged 18, took her own life after a sustained period of bullying.

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