Call for taskforce to focus on barbiturates - used as most common type of intentional overdose

A national taskforce needs to be set up to look at the prescribing of barbiturates as they continue to be used as the most common type of intentional overdose, a conference on suicidology was told.

Call for taskforce to focus on barbiturates - used as most common type of intentional overdose

Cindy O’Shea, regional prisons support officer and member of the Samaritans Ireland Nations Board, said: “In some areas, there is overprescribing of benzodiazapene from primary care and [as a result] they are accessible on the streets.”

Previously, National Suicide Research Foundation director of research Dr Ella Arensman had shown the Irish Association of Suicidology conference research which demonstrated that, since 2004, benzodiazapene is the most common way to intentionally overdose.

Senator Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House, said the transfer of clients from the former suicide bereavement charity, Console to Pieta House was working well. “It makes sense to have Pieta House looking after Console clients as many times, when somebody loses a family member or friend, they become the most vulnerable themselves and often go on to take their own life as they can’t handle the grief.”

Meanwhile, director of programmes at Reachout.com Derek Chambers said over 60% of the young people who contacted them over the past five years had moderate to severe levels of psychological distress. “What had stopped them accessing help along the way included beliefs that ‘if I tell someone it becomes real’, that ‘I don’t need the help as much as I think I do’ and they didn’t want ‘to burden people’,” he said.

The ‘tipping point’ for many suicidal clients, remains much the same. “For men, it’s having so much identity built around work and then something happens like they become unemployed, retire or a business fails,” Ms Freeman said. “Among women, our most common profile is women aged 45-60 who are experiencing a series of losses, it could be menopause, the end of fertility, their family having grown up, the end of a relationship, a death,” she said.

More in this section