Mayo’s suicide rates well above the national average

The rate of suicide in the Mayo area has been revealed as one of Ireland’s highest for 2012, the national suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console has said.

Suicide figures released by the Central Statistics Office last Friday show Mayo had 19.9 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people last year.

“This is a serious cause for concern as the national average for death by suicide is 11.1 per 100,000 population,” said Console’s director of services Ciaran Austin.

Console say the CSO’s figures do not give the full picture of the extent of suicide in Ireland and the charity is calling for a radical review of the procedures for collecting data on suicide so that agencies can identify problems and respond more quickly.

“The CSO’s provisional figures show 507 people died by suicide last year, a 3.5 per cent drop on the numbers in 2011, but that includes a dramatic 46 per cent increase in the number of older people over 55 taking their own lives,” said Mr Austin.

“The regional data is also disturbing with several counties recording rates of suicide well above the national average. These include Limerick with 26.6 deaths by suicide per 100,000, Cork city (25.6 ), Wexford (21.2 ) and Mayo (19.9 ).

“We need to find out why these trends are happening but the figures we have are provisional when what we need is accurate and timely data.”

Console support the recent call by Prof Kevin Malone of UCD for the implementation of a real-time database to act as a register for suicide deaths.

“This would be one effective way to ensure early identification of trends and clusters, helping agencies and services to understand the specific problems and hopefully, respond sooner,” said Mr Austin.

Console says while the small drop in suicide deaths in 15 to 24 category is welcome, Ireland still has around the fourth highest rate of suicide for this demographic and this clearly needs attention.

The number of deaths registered as “undetermined” are also a serious cause for concern.

“These statistics will be scrutinised in the coming weeks but we won’t have the real picture of suicide in Ireland in 2012, for several years. We need significant changes and investment in research as the lack of accurate information is impeding our ability to understand and respond to the awful tragedy of suicide.”

Nationwide professional suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console offers counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide (Freephone 1800 201 890 ).

The charity has a full-time counselling centre in Mayo (094 938 8100 ).

Counselling, advice and general support is available for any individual, couples, groups, families or children who have been affected by suicide.

Console can be reached at any time on freephone 1800 201 890 and many resources and useful information can be found at www.console.ie

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