Suicide is an issue of Growing Concern in Ireland. Neville speaking at the Fine Gael Conference in Waterford


Speaking at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in Waterford ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday September 10th Deputy Neville, Fine Gael Spokesman on Mental Health stated that the World Health Organisation estimates that about 1million people die by suicide every year. This is a very conservative estimation of the number of deaths but it represents a global mortality rate of 60 per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. There has been a substantial increase in suicide levels in Ireland in 2009 which must be addressed by the political system. It must be addressed by government.

It is often asked how we can disconnect with each other in a world that appears now so disconnected. I strongly believe that if our communities work towards being better connected through sharing information, expertise and time we can do a great deal to help those who are in need, desperate and vulnerable to suicide . To do this requires leadership and this must come from government. The recent figures are disturbing which shows a 25% increase in suicide in 2009 over 2008.

The figures published show that there was an increase from 424 in 2008 to 527 deaths by suicide last year. The real figure is much higher. Alarmingly there were 195 deaths of undetermined intent in 2009. The government must recognise this crisis which requires an emergency response, instead they have been refusing to even address the issue and have reduced resources to suicide prevention. During recessionary times there is a certain gap between material needs and resources. In economic downturns frustration increases as an increasing proportion of people cannot realise their financial goals. This frustration can increase aggression including suicide. Research published in 1957 found that the absolute value of change in the stock market was associated with an increase in male suicide rates in 1929 to 1940.

There have been numerous studies of this type over the years. Most continue to illustrate a clear link between unemployment and suicide. This is especially true for males. In the figures released 80% of the deaths by suicide were among men. There is clear evidence that suicide links is linked to financial difficulties. The World Health Organisation has identified that 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 leads to a reduction in mental wellbeing, an increase in mental health problems and mental ill health, increased substance abuse, especially alcohol and drugs and intimate relationship break down and divorce. There is a loss of perceived self social worth. There is a loss of purpose and daily structure, reduced social contact and increased social isolation. An increased risk of suicidal behaviour occurs both non fatal self harm and completed suicides.

All studies show higher rates of ill health, psychological and physical in those who are unemployed. A protracted period of unemployment of people who are at a young age seems to have a particularly delirious effect on the mental health of young men regardless of their social background. I believe the Minister for Health & Children and the HSE must respond to the change in society that has led to higher suicides and mental illness problems.