Thursday 22 March 2018

Donal's family welcomes fall in youth suicide figures

Clodagh Sheehy

THE family of inspirational teenager Donal Walsh hope his anti-suicide message is "getting out", with a drop of 23pc in the numbers of young people taking their own lives.

His mother, Elma Walsh, welcomed the fall-off, describing the new decrease among young people as "great, fantastic, it's very much what Donal would have wanted".

Kerry native Donal became a national hero at 16 as he spoke out during his battle with cancer to urge young people to appreciate life.

Almost 7,000 people attended his funeral in Tralee after he died on May 12, 2013.

Mrs Walsh said she hoped Donal's message was "getting out there – to live life and appreciate what you have."

The figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for 2013, shows 475 suicides were registered in 2013, compared with 507 in 2012 – a drop of 6pc.

However, although deaths in the 15-24 age group dropped to 57, there was a 26pc rise in the 45-54 age group where 108 people took their lives last year.

Mrs Walsh said she was "amazed" at the increase in suicides among older people.

"A lot of emphasis is put on depression but it can be a lot of other things. It can be an economic factor, or a death."

She urged anyone thinking of suicide to seek help. "The help is out there and the groups are only too willing to give it."

The reduction in young people's deaths has reached 40pc in two years and has been welcomed by national suicide prevention charity Console.

The organisation pointed out, however, that Ireland still had the fourth highest suicide rate in the EU among young people and "this clearly needs more attention".

Meanwhile, the figures also show that births to teenage mothers in Ireland have halved over the last 12 years.

Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 1,381 girls aged between 15 and 19 gave birth last year.

This reflects a drop of 258 teenage births from the year prior.

Since the establishment of the Health Services Executive (HSE) Crisis Pregnancy Programme in 2001, the number of teenage births has dropped almost every year from 3,087.

Irish Independent

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