Ireland has one of highest teenage suicide rates in EU

Peter Power: ‘This must be a wake-up call for Ireland’

Claire Murphy

Ireland has the fourth highest teen suicide rate in the EU/OECD region, according to new research from Unicef.

The organisation's latest report card on well-being of young people found that Ireland's suicide rate amongst adolescents aged 15 to 19 was higher than the international average.

The 10.3 per 100,000 population ranks well above the national country average of 6.1 per 100,000.

The rate is lowest, at 1.7 per 100,000, in Portugal, and tends to be low in southern European countries.

The report also shows a worrying rise in self-reported adolescent mental health issues, indicating that teenagers themselves have concerns about their mental health. It found that 22.6pc of children aged 11 to 15 reported experiencing two or more psychological symptoms more than once a week.

The number of teens reporting being drunk in Ireland in the past month fell to 4.8pc. The rate more than halved and the report made note of the "dramatic improvement" between 2010 and 2014. A further 9.1pc of 15 to 19-year-olds are not in education, employment or training - but this is well below the average rate of 6.9pc.

Unicef Ireland chief executive Peter Power said that the report card serves as a "wake-up call" for Ireland.

"Despite economic recovery and the idea that the consequent rising tide will benefit everyone, it is clear children are experiencing real and substantial inequality," he said. "Services are inadequate in several areas and policy change is badly needed."

'Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries' is the first report to assess the status of children in 41 high-income countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified as most important for child well-being.

For some indicators - income inequality, adolescent self-reported mental health and obesity - the trends suggest cause for concern in the majority of rich countries. In two out of three countries studied, the poorest households with children are now further behind the average than they were in 2008.