Samaritans: Inequality is driving people to suicide

Phone helpline charity the Samaritans has warned that inequality is driving people to suicide.

Samaritans: Inequality is driving people to suicide

It has called on the Government, businesses, industry, and sector leaders to be aware of the risks of suicide and to direct supportive resources to those with unstable employment, insecure housing or low income or who live in areas of socio-economic deprivation.

Suicide rates are twice as high in deprived areas, the charity warns.

The report, Dying from Inequality, is far-reaching and highlights clear areas of risk to communities and individuals, including the closure and downsizing of businesses, those in manual, low-skilled employment, those facing unmanageable debt, and those with poor housing conditions.

Eight commissioned experts from fields such as public health, sociology, health psychology, and health economics authored the report.

Previous research found suicide rates in Ireland were two times higher in the most deprived areas than in less deprived communities.

Samaritans’ executive director for Ireland Deirdre Toner said: “Suicide is an inequality issue which we have known about for some time.

“This report says that’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s got to change.

“Most important of all is, for the first time, this report sets out what needs to happen to save lives.”

Ms Toner said addressing inequality would remove the barriers to help and support where it is needed most and reduce the need for it in the first place.

“Government, public services, employers, service providers, communities, family and friends all have a role in making sure help and support are relevant and accessible when it matters most.

“Everyone can feel overwhelmed at times in their life. People at risk of suicide may have employers, or they may seek help at job centres, or go to their GP.

“They may come into contact with national and local government agencies, perhaps on a daily basis.

“So, in the light of this report we are asking key people and organisations from across society, for example those working in housing, in businesses, medical staff, job centre managers, to all take action to make sure their service, their organisation, their community is doing all it can to promote mental health and prevent the tragedy of suicide.”

Ms Toner said the Samaritans have already started addressing the inequalities driving people to suicide, by making their helpline number free to call, working with communities experiencing disadvantage and by calling for a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention with actions across all departments and state agencies.

“In response to the findings of the report the next steps will involve instigating working groups, in different sectors, of businesses and charities who can influence in the areas highlighted, in order to tackle this issue in a collaborative, systematic and effective way to ensure that fewer people die by suicide,” said Ms Toner.

“Each suicide statistic represents a person. The employee on a zero-hour contract is somebody’s parent or child.

“A person at risk of losing their home may be a sibling or a friend. And each one of them will leave others devastated, and potentially more disadvantaged too if they take their own life.

“This is a call for us as individuals to care more and for organisations that can make a difference, to do so.”

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