I have attempted suicide, says George Hook

Broadcaster George Hook today revealed that he once planned to kill himself by jumping off Dun Laoghaire Pier in Dublin - but backed out at the last minute.

Broadcaster George Hook today revealed that he once planned to kill himself by jumping off Dun Laoghaire Pier in Dublin - but backed out at the last minute.

Speaking at the Suicide Prevention Forum in Dublin today, he Newstalk Radio anchor said that young people are committing suicide because of a lack of self-esteem and communication with their families.

He told the audience in Dublin's Burlington Hotel that society was failing the 400-plus young people who committed suicide every year.

He said of his suicide attempt: "I hated my work. I hated what I wanted to do and it seemed like a good idea to finish it."

Mr Hook said he got cold feet at the last minute and did not attempt suicide again because he had friends to support him.

He did not tell his wife or his children about the incident, but confided in a friend.

"This is the tragedy of suicide - you don't communicate the problem with your family," he explained.

"I wanted to do it because I believed that I wasn't any good any more. I was in a job for 20 years that I had failed in and was miserable. I said to myself on a daily basis: 'George Hook, you're no good'."

He said the turning point came in November 1997 when RTÉ telephoned him to hire him as a rugby pundit for the Ireland v Italy game.

"By accident, I found something that made me happy. Fat, balding, toothless as I was, in my declining years, I had found something that gave me self esteem."

The popular rugby pundit said that young people were lacking in challenges because they were experiencing luxuries like wealth and foreign travel that took longer to achieve in previous generations.

"Humans cannot survive unless they communicate," he explained. "That is something we have to give children, and if we don't give it to them by the time they are 18 years of age, we will be giving them a disability that will be with them for the rest of their lives."

Mr Hook referred to his neck tie, which supported the IRFU Charitable Trust which supported 27 young rugby players who became quadriplegics through rugby injuries - but they never became suicidal because of support structures.

"We stand on the threshold of an epidemic," he said. "Four hundred people, who may well be Mozarts or Einsteins or the cream of our young people in this country, we allow them to die because society has let them down. The blame is ours and society's."

"What this country requires is a better social interaction among its young people."

The conference was organised by The National Office of Suicide Prevention. The 2005 figure of 431 suicides is the fifth-highest in Europe and men under 35 account for 40% of all deaths.

The conference also heard that 8,600 people who had deliberately self-harmed themselves turned up at A&Es in 2005 - some did so more than once.

Half of all presentations were by people 30-years-old or less and there were 37% more females than males.

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