Facing the tragic reality of a suicide is enormously difficult and stressful for families, communities and society. A suicide, which is in almost all cases by a person with a family and friends who care, evoke not only the normal emotions associated with bereavement, but also feelings of anger, confusion and the unanswerable question, why?
In the first half of the nineteen sixties an average of 64 people died by suicide. In the last 5 years an average of 477 died. In 2011, preliminary statistics show that 525, 439 males and 83 females, took their own lives. This represents a more than a seven fold of increase since the sixties. It is accepted that there is a level of under reporting of suicide and experts estimate, conservatively that the level of suicide for 2007 was in the region of 600. In 2012, 161 died in road traffic accidents. In 2011 there were 65 undetermined deaths. In most jurisdictions these are regarded as suicide as in Scotland the ‘Chooselife’ programme states to do so ‘protects protects under-recording and provides for more accurate figures for international and geographical comparisons.’
It is accepted that there is a measure of under reporting of suicides. Therefore many more die by suicide than by road traffic accidents. Some road accidents are suicide. In Mayo in 2002 the coroner brought in a verdict of suicide on 2 road deaths. There are extensive resources allocated (and rightly so) to promote road safety. The amount spent on suicide prevention, in comparison is dismal. There were 30 deaths due to homicide registered in 2010.
Suicide is now the most common cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds in Ireland. A disturbing feature is the level of the male suicide rate, which accounts for 80% of deaths. Ireland has the 4th highest suicide rate after Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.