Suicide

Suicide is defined as the intentional taking of a person’s own life. The National Suicide Research Foundation records show that suicide rates in Ireland fell between 2001 and 2007. This was during the so-called Celtic Tiger years. However, in 2008, when the recession hit Ireland, the rates began to increase significantly with figures from the Central Statistics Office, in their Statistical Yearbook of Ireland, 2015 telling us that there was a figure of 554 suicides in Ireland in the year 2011. This may or may not be attributed to the recession. However, from 2007 onwards, people suddenly found themselves losing their homes, businesses, investments and pensions and ending up in negative equity. Whatever the reason, 554 suicides in one year is a startling statistic. It would appear that the rate among males is much higher as, again, according to the Central Statistics Office, in 2011 of the 554 cases recorded, 458 were male and 96 were female. In 2014, when the economy had begun to show signs of growth again, 459 deaths were attributed to suicide.

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In the Ireland of long ago, suicide was considered a crime. However, with the introduction of The Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, 1993, suicide is no longer regarded as a crime and as such the phrase ‘committed suicide’ is not recommended.  The suggested terminology to be used nowadays is ‘died by suicide’.

Suicide would appear to have reached epidemic proportions in Ireland. We have one of the highest rates in the EU with official figures standing at over 500 suicides on average every year. The numbers have doubled since the 1980s according to figures from the Central Statistics Office. Some commentators say that the statistics may even be higher as there is still an element of stigma attached to suicide and families may not want to have the death of a son, daughter or any family member recorded as suicide. Tragically, it would appear to be one of the leading causes of death in Ireland at the moment and it is not confined to just young people, it is happening right across the board in older people as well as the youth, men and women alike. Such tragic deaths cause untold misery and trauma for families and friends. Christmas can be a particularly hard time of year. We should all be mindful that it is not a time of joy for everyone especially if there has been challenging times during the year with loss, sickness or other issues.

Some signs to watch out for in a person who may be contemplating suicide are if someone is:

  • Talking about or having a fixation with death
  • Pulling away from family and friends, wanting to be alone
  • Giving possessions away
  • Not seeing a future ahead of them
  • Talking about suicide, having suicidal thoughts
  • Unable to sleep, being irritable
  • Reckless behaviour, not caring about one self or anyone else
  • Drinking to excess
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Previous suicide of friends or family

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These are just some of the symptoms that are displayed and being vigilant and taking note of the signs may help to save a person’s life. A person may be so overwhelmed by their thoughts of hopelessness and desperation that they may see suicide as the only way out. Sometimes a person may just be crying out for help in their dilemma and may feel that the only way to get that help is to attempt suicide without really wanting to die. Unfortunately, sometimes that cry for help can go wrong and lead to actual death. It is important for all of us to be vigilant and to be aware of the signs. It could help prevent the awful tragedy that is suicide. Regrettably, in some cases, there may not be any visible signs to indicate how a person is feeling because, potentially, there may be thoughts without any outward signs.

Suicide is not the taboo subject it used to be in the Ireland of old and thankfully, it is now beginning to be talked about without the stigma that was once attributed to it. Celebrities have come out in the media and television shows and talked about their difficulties with depression and other issues affecting their mental health. By talking about it publicly, they are bringing it out in the open and getting the message across that it is okay not to feel okay and to avail of the help that is out there. I believe anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts, or families affected by suicide, can benefit by talking about whatever it is that is bothering them and I urge anyone who is depressed or feeling suicidal to talk to someone like a family member, friend, work colleague etc.

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If you feel you cannot talk to someone you know, Cara Counselling, Loughrea provides a space to talk in confidence to a Counsellor, to help make sense of the feelings and emotions that can arise in our daily lives. It is a guaranteed confidential, non-judgemental service. Please feel free to give Cara Counselling a call on 083 1855958, or you can also use the Contact Me page and I will get in touch with you as soon as possible. Help is only a phone call or a click away.

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