Saturday 16 February 2019

Wexford suffers second highest rate of suicide in the country

Eugene Hoganand Lorna Reid

THE Mayor of Wexford has called for additional resources for psychological services for the county after a spate of seven suicide-related deaths in the past four days alone there.

Two school children in their early teens were among the victims in what has been the worst week in living memory for self-inflicted deaths in Wexford.

In addition to the teenage deaths, there was the death of a doctor in his mid-50s and a 74-year-old pensioner, together with the triple tragedy in Wexford town involving Sharon Grace and her two children - making it a horrific four days for a county with the second highest rate for suicide in the country.

Wexford Borough Council Mayor Davy Hynes (Lab) said last night that the county must be given specific attention by the health services in light of the recent suicide death toll.

"The whole area of support for people suffering from depression must be revisited as it is clearly under-resourced," said Mr Hynes. "Countrywide, there is a real difficulty as Ireland has a higher rate of suicide than most countries, but I am also really concerned about what is happening here in Wexford.

"Definitely in light of what has happened here in Wexford town in recent days and elsewhere in the country, there is a need for the area to be looked at in more detail. I will certainly be bringing this up with our five Dail deputies here in the county.

"We must do something for what is the Cinderella sector of an already ailing health service."

Statistics show Wexford is way above the national average of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 - only second behind Tipperary North on the suicide rate per head of population.

Tipperary North leads the country with the most deaths attributed to suicide, according to 2003 figures - the latest available. The catchment area of the Tipperary North Riding showed 22.7 deaths per 100,000, more than double the national average of 11.2 for that year.

In Co Wexford, the average per 100,000 people was 19.3 - more than eight points above the national average.

Suicide clusters and 'copycat' methods of self-inflicted death have become a feature of suicide in Ireland, the president of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville, said yesterday.

"If more money was made available for research, then maybe we could begin to try and understand the patterns around the country which lead people to take their own lives," said the Limerick West TD (FG).

"But we do know that there are patterns of cluster suicides, and also some locations have become the places to go for people who want to take their own lives," Mr Neville said.

Ireland follows the European and international trends when it comes to the methods of self-inflicted death - men are more likely to seek a more violent end to their lives than women, with the numbers of men committing suicide four times greater than that of women.

"Last year more than 60,000 people attempted to take their own lives," Mr Neville said.

Statistics from the National Suicide Review Group show that over a five-year period from 1997 to 2001, 2,452 people ended their lives by suicide - with more than 50pc of these hanging themselves.

Drowning and poisoning are the two methods generally chosen by women; while the overwhelming number of males chose to hang themselves. Drowning and poisoning were also the preferred methods of death of more than 500 men during that five-year period.

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