TWENTY eight people took their own lives in Kerry last year, one of the highest rates per capita in the country. It's an issue that will be addressed at a countywide Mental Wellness exhibition set for Tralee this weekend.
The sobering statistic referes to suicide incidents in 2011 and provides shocking reading when compared to western seaboard counties with similar populations such as Donegal (10 suicides in 2011), Mayo (15) and Clare (8).
Provided by the CSO, figures for the first two quarters of 2012 are yet to be compiled but the high number of suicide incidents heard in recent inquests in Kerry - including six in the Killarney area in a three month period - have sparked fears that the figure could be repeated, if not surpassed.
The figures were released following a departmental response last week to a query raised by Deputy Michael Healy Rae. The Kilgarvan deputy said he was shocked at the figures which reveal that at least one person in Kerry takes their own lives every two weeks.
Meanwhile, the high number of incidents in Kerry in recent years has led to the formation of a number of groups whose aims are to identify and offer support to these most in danger of suicide and self harming.
Recently formed Killarney based group 'Be Aware Prevent Suicide' aims to provide clarity on the plethora of services available and has organised a two-day 'Mental Wellness Exhibition' to be held at the Brandon Hotel on Sunday and Monday, October 21 and October 22.
Ex-Munster rugby star Alan Quinlan will be one of the high profile guest speakers at the event and he will reveal how he successfully tackled depression, part of a keynote address at the free event.
A one-stop shop of all the help available, the exhibition will provide a platform for over 60 voluntary and statutory groups in Kerry to promote their services to the public.
Admission is free on both days and the focus on Monday will be on school groups with secondary schools encouraged to attend. The exhibition runs from 10am to 7pm on Sunday, and 10am to 3pm on Sunday.
For further information contact Deirdre Fee at 086-2308788.