Five years after a loved one takes their own life, more than a third of family members still feel depressed and anxious about their loss, while a quarter admit to having suicidal thoughts, according to new research.
More than half were also found to be using some form of medication — 68% for a physical health issue and 32% for a mental health issue.
The data, compiled on behalf of the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), formed part of an overall investigation into bereavement supports and suicide risks.
The study looked at the findings of various coroner reports and postmortems and researchers interviewed family members of the deceased and any relevant healthcare professional they might have seen before their death.
It found the vast majority of those who took their own life, 81%, had some contact with a GP or mental health service in the 12 months prior to their death. It also reported 57% had a pre-existing physical illness such as cancer or chronic pain.
Nearly two thirds had a history of self-harm while 69% were diagnosed with depression. Indications of alcohol and/or drug abuse were present among 60%.
In terms of employment, two in every five people who had taken their own lives had worked in the construction sector at some point. At the time of death, more than half of all the individuals included in the study were not in paid employment.
A quarter of all the female suicide cases were women who had been working in a healthcare setting.
The research, which looked at 307 individual cases of suicide between 2008 and 2013, was released by Professor Ella Arensman of NSRF yesterday as part of Console’s World Suicide Prevention Day Conference at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Later that night, some of Ireland’s most iconic buildings turned orange to mark the day and spread the message “it’s OK not to feel OK”.
Cork City Hall, Blarney Castle, Blackrock Observatory, Croke Park, and Kilkenny Castle were among 37 landmarks to show their orange glow, while thousands of homes across the country followed suit, displaying a special orange lightbulb in their windows.
The initiative was organised by suicide awareness group Cycle Against Suicide.
“We are inspired to see how our message that ‘it’s OK not to feel OK’ and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help has been taken on by so many communities in our fight to break the cycle of suicide,” said Cycle Against Suicide founder Jim Breen.
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