President McAleese urges suicide prevention as figures surge
President Mary McAleese urged communities to help prevent suicide as she remembered hundreds of men and women who took their own life.
The president lit a candle of hope at Console's annual suicide prevention conference in Dublin, where she called on the public to recognise the signs of distress before serious damage is done.
An estimated 486 people - 386 men and 100 women - took their own lives last year.
Mrs McAleese said communities have to rid themselves of homophobia, racism, cyber and school bullying, and alcohol or drug abuse to stop victims feeling isolated - and search for ways to overcome the tragic ending of a life by one's own hand.
"Mental ill-health and suicide have been with us in good times and in bad but these difficult economic times undoubtedly increase the strain on individuals and families as unemployment and indebtedness take their toll," she said.
"They make it all the more imperative that we do all that we can to reduce the suicide rate, reduce the unnecessary waste of human life, reduce the awful legacy of grief for the bereaved and reduce the awful, overwhelming misery of a life that feels compelled to contemplate suicide."
National and international experts joined survivors and the bereaved to discuss new research and best practice at a conference on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day.
Events across the country to mark the day will include a memorial walk in the Phoenix Park, Climb of Hope at Croagh Patrick and an Absent Friends concert in Dublin.
Elsewhere Congress trade union said there were well-established connections between workplace stress and suicide.
Esther Lynch, the union's legal affairs officer, said fears of job losses, less earnings, or pressure to work longer hours all contribute to stress and worry.
"With unemployment at record levels and bad news on jobs being heard daily, there is little doubt that people at work are feeling increased pressure and stress," said Ms Lynch.
"That will undoubtedly lead to an increased risk of suicide.
"Pressure has increased on people both inside and outside work given the record levels of debt that obtain. For people in and out of work there is an incredible level of worry and anxiety about mounting debts and the fear of home loss."
Pieta House, the suicide crisis centre, revealed on Monday it had seen a 40% increase in the number of people coming to them for help in the first six months of this year.