Suicide up 35% according to latest stats – Neville

Govt is not heeding warnings of effects of recession on suicide and mental health

Fine Gael Mental Health Spokesperson, Dan Neville TD, today (Thursday) said the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show the number of deaths by suicide increased by 35% in the first half of 2009. Deputy Neville said that 228 people took their own lives in the first half of last year, compared to 169 in the same period in 2008, and the Government must pay heed to the link between unemployment and suicide.

“It is alarming to see that the births, marriages and deaths figures released today again show an increase in the number of people dying by suicide. The figures for the second quarter of 2009 show that there were 122 deaths by suicide in that period. This is an increase from 95 deaths by suicide in the second quarter of 2008. Taken with the quarter 1 figures for 2009, this shows that over the first half of last year 228 people took their own lives, an increase of 35% on the first half of 2008.

“Seventy seven per cent of the deaths by suicide were among men and 40% of those who took their own lives were under 35.

“The Government should regard an increase of the magnitude of 35% in the number of suicides as warranting an emergency response. Instead the Government has been ignoring its duty to respond to the mental health crisis brought about by times of recession.

“The link between suicide and financial disaster has been well established. Unemployment, insecure employment, threat to or loss of home and restricted access to credit take a heavy psychological toll on public health. There is a reduction in mental well-being and an increase in mental health problems, substance misuse, relationship breakdown and divorce.

“I have been warning about the trend revealed in the statistics published today but the Government has turned a deaf ear so far. 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.”