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Boxer Dunne urges 'talk' in suicide fight

Stigma around mental health issues is still stopping people in need from accessing support, medics have warned.

A survey to mark World Suicide Day found almost a third of people would not willingly accept someone with a mental health problem as a close friend.

Meanwhile former world champion boxer Bernard Dunne has urged people to talk to each other to battle the scourge of suicide. He said people need to be able to speak about their mental health issues.

In the World Suicide Day survey some 62pc admitted they would discriminate against hiring someone with a history of mental illness on the grounds they may be unreliable.

St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin warned that it is crucial vulnerable people can get high quality care from a service they trust. Some 525 people died from suicide here last year, up from 486 in 2010.

Paul Gilligan, chief executive of the mental health and addiction facility, said: "Data from the World Health Organisation indicate that approximately one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This translates to one death by suicide every 40 seconds."

St Patrick's is holding free information evenings every Tuesday for families and carers to promote understanding of the illness.


Its survey found more than a fifth of people quizzed believe those suffering from mental health problems are below average intelligence, with 42pc feeling that undergoing treatment for a mental health problem is a sign of personal failure.

Elsewhere the St Patrick's survey of 300 members of the public, found four out of 10 people have had a family close member treated, with 60pc having a close friend who received help and more than half have worked with someone who has been treated for emotional or mental health problems.

"These figures highlight the critical requirement to reduce stigma and barriers to accessing mental healthcare," said Mr Gilligan.

Meanwhile Bernard Dunne said people needed to be able to speak about mental health problems. "Being a man often means that you're not used to talking to other people about what's on your mind. That stigma has to be lifted," he said.

"When I retired from boxing I was lucky that I had a strong network around me that encouraged me to open up. Other people are not so lucky."

Dunne joined hundreds of people in Console Walk And Talk at the Phoenix Park to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. The charity based the fundraiser on getting extended families together for a chat and a stroll -- based on the twin suicide prevention themes of community and communication.

Anyone in crisis should call Console's 1Life 24-hour helpline support on 1800 247 100.