Suicide ignored by governments, warns charity

AN increasing number of 16- to18-year-olds are committing suicide, according to research carried out by a leading charity.

Noel Smyth, head of the 3Ts (Turn the Tide of Suicide) charity, said the study, carried out by UCD’s Professor Kevin Malone, shows a worrying new trend which is likely to get worse if it is not tackled.

Mr Smyth said Ireland would soon have the unenviable label of being in the top three countries in Europe for suicide, if current trends continue.

The businessman and solicitor said he had extended an offer to the Government to help fund an independent audit of all suicide services to get a complete picture of suicide in Ireland. This offer was declined by the previous government, he said.

“We got a quote from top consultants firm McKinsey to look at everything and audit where we are at to give us a complete picture,” he said. “The cost was €400,000, we were going to pay half and we asked the previous government to pay the other half, they declined.”

Mr Smyth said he was willing to extend the same offer to the current Government, but he said current attitudes once again appeared to be a case of “all words and no action”.

“Enda Kenny said he was going to tackle suicide and make it a priority but we have seen nothing yet,” Mr Smyth said.

“You can find as many excuses as you want for them, but we have heard it all before. Governments think that suicide is like the issue of the poor — they are always going to be there, we can’t solve it. I think until it comes to the door of a politician in a real sense, it will not be dealt with.”

Meanwhile, suicide crisis centre Pieta House says there has been a 40% increase in the number of people coming to them for help in the first six months of the year.

The new figures have been released to coincide with Suicide Awareness Week, which gets under way today.

According to Pieta House, 486 people — 386 men and 100 women — died by suicide in Ireland last year. Pieta House cited the recession as contributing to the increase in the number of people coming forward for help.

The research also indicated that 60% of 18- to 34-year-old men turn to their mothers for support in times of distress — indicating that the family unit remains the primary support network.

The 3Ts charity will hold a candlelight vigil in Dublin this evening, Now in its eighth year, the vigil will take place on the forecourt of the Bank of Ireland, College Green, to remember people who have lost their lives to suicide.

Events are planned across the country to mark Suicide Awareness Week, which runs until September 9.

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