Unemployment two to three times more likely to die by suicide – Neville

Fine Gael Limerick TD and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville, has warned that we must not forget the link between being out of work and suicide. Speaking during an address to the Working Together to Prevent Suicide Conference at the Devon Inn Hotel, Templeglantine, Co Limerick, Deputy Neville said that people who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than those in employment.

“The high rate of suicide among the unemployed is partly because people with a psychiatric illness are more likely to lose their jobs. But even among people with no history of serious mental illness, unemployment is associated with a 70% higher suicide risk.

“When someone loses their job, there is a perceived loss of social worth. Job loss, insecurity and uncertainty coupled with economic strain and the possible threat of home repossession can have a severe impact on mental well-being.

“This in turn can lead to an increase in substance misuse, especially alcohol and drugs. Alcohol consumption rises during recessions, and this directly correlates with a rise in suicides. In the 1990s in Ireland there was a 44% increase in alcohol consumption and a 41% increase in suicide.

“Pressing ahead with implementation of the policy framework contained in A Vision for Change is crucial as we continue to grapple with these problems as a society. A Vision for Change advocates community based care provided by multidisciplinary mental health teams. It is important that people with mental health problems are allowed to access the services and supports they choose while continuing to live and participate in their community, as is their right.

“As promised under the Programme for Government, €35 million has been ring-fenced for the implementation of A Vision for Change. The recent announcement that Mental Health Service will be included within the directorship of the HSE, where it previously was at the level of assistant director, is in line with recommendations.

“Progress on the further rollout of the Vision for Change policy is essential.”