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COMMENT: Coronor's court reveals the growing problem of suicide

TWO men who may have known each other, or perhaps knew each other to see in their community, had their lives briefly unfold last week. Unfortunately, it was not in a joyful atmosphere, as evidence of their suicides was heard by North Cork Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy in Mallow.

One young man was missing his older brother, and his family were concerned about his well being. He had been to a doctor and was taking medication to help with his depression.

The young man, who was just 19 years-old, spoke about ending his life. His father spoke with him, and stayed with him and the family offered the best support that they possibly could.

The father stayed up with his son until early morning and the two men had some drinks, and chatted. After 4am, the son said he was going to bed and the father felt, perhaps somewhat relieved, that he had got his son through this dark cloud, heard the radio being turned on in his son's room.

At 6.30am, the father awoke and, perhaps it was the paternal instinct kicked in, he went to check on his son. He found the bedroom door locked and, alarmed, he broke the door down. Inside, he found his dead.

The level of shock must have been like a sword through his heart.

Separately, a bachelor in his early 60s was feeling down at the recent death of a friend. The man seemed to have very good neighbours, but ones who understood that the bachelor was a very private person.

He wasn't seen for a few days and, concerned, a family member was contacted, who went to his home. He found him hanging in his shed.

Families in Ireland bereaved by suicide find themselves in a very traumatic whirlpool of emotion.

In 2006, in Mallow, at one inquest sitting six suicides were heard. The gender was male and the age varied from 18-75 years old.

Suicide in North Cork is a problem. It is a very big problem, and one that needs to be fully addressed.

Quite often, evidence furnished at inquest sittings can be highly emotional and deeply upsetting for family and friends. An inquest is an official inquiry into the cause of a sudden, unexplained or violent death. It is presided over by a coroner and, in some cases, involves a jury.

For the families and friends who are left behind it can be a slow road to recovery. But it is also important to remember the professionals who hear an inquest, from the coroner, to the pathologist who gives medical evidence to the jury.

More often than not, it is local Gardai who often give tremendous support and compassion to a family.

But as many families know, more often than not, when the deluge of callers trickle away, it is just the family who are left to pick up the pieces.