Saturday 18 November 2017

It's time to start talking about 'silent epidemic' of loneliness

'A university study revealed that loneliness can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack'. Picture posed
'A university study revealed that loneliness can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack'. Picture posed

Lorraine Courtney

Recently, Ennis locals turned out in their hundreds for the funeral of a man who died alone in the town on Christmas Day. It was a bittersweet ending to Marek Skiba's tale, a tale that epitomises the loneliness that is tearing our society apart.

"I am lonely. I am lonely. I am lonely." This was Barbara's contribution to Sue Bourne's powerful documentary 'The Age of Loneliness', which aired on BBC 1. Ms Bourne was inspired to make the programme 18 months ago, when Britain was named the loneliest country in Europe, and studies linking loneliness to physical illnesses began to surface.

We also met 18 year-old Isabel, a student in her first year at university and Kylie, a self-described "type A" working woman in her mid-30s. Kylie said it herself: Why on earth does she feel lonely? But she is chronically lonely and generous enough, too, to open up about her feelings on telly so we can start to get a true picture of what this "silent epidemic" really looks like.

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