Suicide support group in graphic street protest
A support group has staged a demonstration at a suicide blackspot to highlight its claims that three people a day are taking their own lives due to "unforgivable" pressures over debt.
Support group Let's Get Together (LGT) staged a controversial city centre protest where life-size mannequins were hung from a busy bridge to highlight the suicide crisis now gripping Ireland.
Two replica bodies, both draped in white, were hung from St Patrick's Bridge in Cork as part of the 'Blood On Your Hands' campaign.
A number of pedestrians admitted they were shocked by the demonstration but dozens of others approached the group to express their support.
"When I saw the two 'bodies' hanging from the bridge, I didn't know what to think. I thought it was an April Fools' joke. I just think it is too close to the bone. I'm sure some people will be very upset by it," said one woman.
But suicide support groups say that they must raise awareness and that official CSO figures indicating up to 700 people take their own lives each year are an underestimate.
"The true figure, from what we have been able to garner from suicide support groups around the country, is somewhere between 900 and 1,100. And the problem is that it is rising all the time," said Pat Buckley of LGT.
But Mr Buckley, who lost two of his brothers to suicide, said that there has been a clear shift from younger to older males opting to take their own lives.
"Young men aged from 18 to 30 were always the greatest risk group. But we are seeing a significant increase in the number of men and women aged from 30 to 55 now taking their own lives.
"All the indications are that they cannot take the pressure of debt repayments and having their incomes wiped out by the Celtic Tiger collapse."
Meanwhile, the Government is considering the rollout of a successful project used to tackle one of the country's worst ever suicide clusters.
The suicide prevention project was used in the Mayfield/Glanmire area on the northside of Cork city, where 18 young men died between 2008 and 2010.
Many of them knew each other well and it led to huge pain and anxiety in the community. The project involved contacting their families, offering counselling and support, and conducting lengthy interviews to discover more about the complex circumstances behind the deaths.
Junior Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said it helped the grieving families and prevented the number of suicides from increasing.
"It's proven to be successful and now we have to see if we can move it to the national stage," she said.