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'Hope' candle shines light on suicide victims

President Mary McAleese yesterday lit a candle of hope in memory of those who have taken their own life.

Speaking at Console's annual suicide prevention conference in Dublin, the President called on the public to recognise the signs of distress in people before serious damage is done.

An estimated 486 people -- 386 men and 100 women -- took their own lives last year.

Ms McAleese said communities had to rid themselves of homophobia, racism, cyber and school bullying, and alcohol or drug abuse to stop victims feeling isolated -- and to search for ways to overcome the tragedy of suicide.

"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 the conference on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Events to mark the day will include a memorial walk in the Phoenix Park, a Climb of Hope at Croagh Patrick and an Absent Friends concert in Dublin.

Irish Independent