Alarming rise in suicides must see support services resourced, especially in recession – Neville

Fine Gael Mental Health Spokesperson, Dan Neville TD, today (Thursday) has said the rise in suicides shown in Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures is alarming. Deputy Neville has been warning that it is essential to resource suicide prevention in times of recession as there is clear evidence that suicide is linked to unemployment, insecure employment, threat to or loss of home or financial disasters.

“The CSO figures released today show an increase to 106 deaths by suicide in the first three months of this year from 74 in the same period of 2008. This is an alarming increase of over 43%, which if replicated over the rest of the year could see the annual number rise to almost 600. This must be met with an emergency response from the Government which has been ignoring its duty to respond to the mental health crisis brought about by times of recession.

“Research going back to the 1890s demonstrates suicide and mental illness increase at times of recession. The director of the World Health Organisation has stated: ‘There is clear evidence that suicide is linked to financial disasters. I am not talking about millionaires jumping out of the window but about poor people.’

“The potential psychological impact of economic recession on public health is severe. Job loss, job insecurity, job uncertainty, economic strain, loss of income, home repossession and restricted access to credit lead to a reduction in mental well-being, an increase in mental health problems and mental ill-health, increased substance misuse, especially alcohol and drugs, and intimate relationship breakdown and divorce. Job insecurity is associated with a 33% greater risk of common mental disorders, mainly anxiety and depression. People who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die of suicide than those in employment.

“All the evidence has pointed to the kind of trend revealed in the statistics published today but my warnings have to date fallen on deaf ears. A little over €3 million has been given to the National Office for Suicide Prevention. I am suggesting to the Government that a modest €10 million to meet this crisis is not too much to ask considering the number of lives now shown to be at risk.”