Suicides spike as mental health budgets are cut
The rate of suicide among young people in Ireland is one of the highest in Europe, new figures show, with the rate even higher in the Six Counties area.
An estimated 165 teens and young men took their own lives in the 26 Counties in 2011, while another 72 died by suicide in the North.
The cross-border Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) said the high numbers in both jurisdictions coincide with the economic downturn and increasing levels of unemployment.
The study found Ireland’s overall suicide rate was average in Europe, but when data focused on young men it lagged only behind the Ukraine, Finland and Lithuania.
It called for targeted measures aimed at reducing the rate of self harm and suicide in the under-30s.
Dr Noel Richardson, author of its report Young Men and Suicide Project, said there can be no quick-fix solutions to tackling the very grave statistics.
“But neither is there any place for inertia or ambivalence,” he said.
“There is both a public health and a moral requirement to act.
“There needs to be a concerted effort to engage more effectively, and in a more sustained way, with young men, and to plan services and programmes with young men in mind.
“This report provides a blueprint and a roadmap for action.”
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that the recession is leading to an increased suicide rate.
“The countries with the highest suicide rate increases were those most affected by the recession, namely, Greece and Ireland,” he said.
There was a sense of despair being felt by young people who either could not find work or being treated as second-class citizens and asked to accept 20 per cent or 30 per cent less in salary than people who qualified a few years ago.
“Is it the case that the policies of cuts and austerity, which the Taoiseach is imposing, are leading directly to the sense of despair and hopelessness felt among young people which is leading to this increase in suicide rates?”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the budget for the National Office for Suicide Prevention had increased from 4.1 million euro to 8.1 million euro.
But late last year, it was reported that tens of millions of euro, ring-fenced by the Dublin government to hire hundreds of staff to boost suicide prevention and mental health services this year, was instead used to tackle cost overruns in other parts of the health services.