Eight people took their own lives in Cork last weekend according to a Dáil deputy from the city. “My phone was hopping all weekend. If it was a minibus with eight people killed it would be national news,” Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley told The Irish Catholic.
Deputy Buckley, who lost two brothers to death by suicide, said while Cork is particularly affected by this affliction it is a nationwide blight. “Society has changed so much in the last 10 years. With the internet, cyberbullying is on the increase.
“There is more pressure on young people. People on low pay find it hard to pay mortgages and this leads to marriages breaking up. Then people resort to drink and drugs to hide their shame.”
The Cork deputy believes the national suicide rate (put provisionally at 541 deaths for 2015) is much higher than reported.
“There is a huge stigma attached to mental health and families don’t want people to know. So if a person takes an overdose, it’s classified as ‘accidental poisoning’, a single vehicle crash is ‘accidental death’. They don’t call it suicide.”
The Cork TD said there was need for 24/7 crisis intervention centres, pointing out that for every person who died by suicide, 42 others were directly affected. Among these, priests were in the front line, he said.
“They are at the forefront of the final journey. I have seen priests getting very upset.
“Faith should help people,” he added.
Prof. Ella Arensman, Director of Research at the National Suicide Research Foundation, disputes the figure of eight suicides in Cork last weekend. A young boy of 16 found dead in his home was “a case of suspected drug misuse”, she said, and another death due to a drug overdose could have been “intentional or accidental”.
“I’m very concerned that again the content of the tweets are not in accordance with the facts,” she said.
There were 16 cases of suicide in Cork City in 2014 for the whole year, said Prof. Arensman. “If eight cases of suicide were to happen in Cork city within two days, we would be dealing with a very serious problem of contagion.”
Statistics on suicide are compiled by the coroner and then sent to the General Register’s Office, ending in the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Deaths by suicide hit a high of 552 in 2009 but have decreased slightly since then – 486 deaths in 2014 and down again for 2015 to 451 (although these figures have not been approved by the Gardaí). Fifty five of the suicide deaths in 2015 happened in Cork.
Statistics on self harming obtained from the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland, show the city had the highest self harm rate among males, in Ireland for 2015.
People seeking help for depression can get help from the Samaritans on 116 123, Aware on 1800 80 48 48, or Childline on 1800 66 66 66.