Three people now die from suicide every day of the year
THREE people are taking their own lives on average each day in Ireland, with fears growing that nearly 1,000 people will die by suicide this year.
Gardai and support groups are monitoring known suicide 'blackspots' -- including the quays in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford as well as sea cliffs in Clare -- in a bid to help those in crisis
Suicide helpline ILife revealed that it was struggling to cope with 99 contacts a day, amounting to more than 33,000 pleas for help each year.
Pat Buckley, founder of charity Let's Get Together, lost his two brothers to suicide and said he feared Ireland was on course to record more than 900 suicides this year.
"The problem with the suicide statistics is that they take about two years to compile -- and even then they are relatively inaccurate and under-report the true scale of the problem," he warned.
"The problem is now so serious it is terrifying. We've battled to raise €5,000 in funds and it was spent on counselling in just a few weeks over November and December," he said.
Mr Buckley, from Midleton in east Cork, lost his brothers Mark and James to suicide in 2002 and 2003. He founded Let's Get Together in their memory.
Ireland recorded 527 suicides in 2009 and the figure for 2010 is expected to top 600.
Experts fear that the true figure is far higher, with an estimated 40pc of all undetermined deaths reckoned to be suicides.
"The tragedy is that I believe we will see over 900 suicides in Ireland this year -- almost three suicides for every day of the year," Mr Buckley said.
The Central Statistics Office confirmed that men were four times more likely to die by suicide than women, with males aged 15-24 the highest risk category.
In Clare, suicide accounted for 10 times the number of deaths from fatal road accidents last year. There were 19 deaths by suicide compared with two road deaths.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee described the rise as "shocking and frightening".
"I believe that the effect of the recession is only adding to the numbers committing suicide. The official numbers taking their own lives is always under-reported and I believe that you can add 20pc to the official figure," he said.
The Cliffs of Moher in Clare ranks as one of the worst suicide 'blackspots'.
Two bodies were recovered from the River Blackwater in Cork in the space of just 18 hours last week, while three bodies were taken from the River Lee in Cork over the course of two days shortly before Christmas.
In Limerick, volunteers now patrol the River Shannon along the city quays.
The patrols began before Christmas by the Countrywide Emergency Response Team (CERT) in response to mounting concern over the number of bodies being taken from the River Shannon.