One in 10 people aged under 35 tried to take their life, survey finds 

One in 10 people aged under 35 tried to take their life, survey finds 

Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said: “We do know that our population has been significantly traumatised, as has the international population, with the pandemic."

The latest Healthy Ireland survey has found one in 10 of people aged under 35 reported trying to take their own life.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said she is “very concerned” about these figures.

The annual survey of a range of health indicators in Ireland includes combined data on suicide attempts during 2021 and 2022, as self-reported by 4,281 respondents through an online survey.

The self-reported data shows 10% of those aged under 35 report an attempt to take their own life compared to less than 1% of those aged 65 or older.

Prof Smyth said: “We do know that our population has been significantly traumatised, as has the international population, with the pandemic. This has significantly affected mental health.” 

She added: “Suicide rates have increased in some areas.” 

The widespread nature of these devastating events can be seen in the finding that 67% of those who responded know someone who has died by suicide with 14% knowing someone close to them who has died in this way.

Breaking this down by region, more people in Munster know someone who died by suicide than in any other province.

Across Munster, some 73% of respondents knew someone in this situation, compared to 72% across Connaught/Ulster and 59% in Dublin. In the rest of Leinster, this figure is 69%.

The survey also found links between chronic ill health and mental health illnesses. 

Some 15% of those describing their general health as “fair or bad”, and 9% of those with a long-standing health problem, report making an attempt to take their own life.

Prof Smyth said there have been “significant effort” made in recent times to increase funding and supports for mental health services including the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

However, advocacy groups and families have frequently criticised long waiting times for accessing mental health services for younger people.

“All of these elements are areas for improvement and for support really with regard to trying to address this significant problem,” she said.

Smoking and binge drinking

The findings also show that smoking levels have remained constant this year at 18% again, the first year since 2015 that rates did not drop compared to the year before.

However, the proportion of people who smoke every day has dropped again to 14%, having risen to 16% during the pandemic.

Breaking these figures down by age shows that people aged 25 to 34 are the most likely to smoke with 24% of them smoking.

Overall men (21%) are more likely to smoke than women (15%).

The figures on binge drinking indicate this habit is on the rise again. 

Last year just 22% of those who drink over a six-month period were considered binge drinkers, but this year that figure stands at 32% 

A binge drinker is someone who takes six or more drinks in a session. The figure is still lower than in 2018 when it stood at 37%.

- If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please click here for a list of support services.

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